Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to try naturalistic learning with your child. Naturalistic or natural environment training is an ABA therapy method in which skills are taught in a more naturalistic setting, such as during everyday activities or during play. A therapist or parent follows the child’s lead and adapts instruction to what interests the child, thereby utilizing the child’s natural motivation to make learning rewarding and fun.
If your child is older or able to understand abstract concepts, you can use all of the natural cues of Valentine’s Day to teach them what the holiday is about. For early learners, you can focus on teaching colors and shapes that are used to decorate. No matter your child’s abilities, there’s always something new for them to learn.
To get you started, try these activities with your older children and teach them different skills as opportunities arise:
- Write or make valentine cards
- Come up with things they love to write on hearts
- Form a countdown to Valentine’s Day
- Create a valentine box
And here are a few things you can do with younger children:
- Tracing different shapes (hearts, flowers, etc.)
- Identifying colors
- Matching different Valentine’s Day decorations
You can also set up fun sensory activities for your child, using different items related to Valentine’s Day. Sensory bins and bottles can be filled with anything that interests your child and can be use to teach various skills. For example:
- Set up sensory bins to teach colors, using those chalky heart candies. Ask your child to give you a pink one, etc.
- Play with Valentine’s Day confetti
- Create sensory bottles with glitter and Valentine’s Day goodies that can be searched for and found
Remember to have fun and celebrate. The more excited you get about the holiday, the more excited your children will get excited about it, too!If you’d like to learn more about naturalistic learning and other ABA therapy techniques you can try at home, contact The Behavior Exchange. We offer Parent Training as part of our comprehensive range of ABA therapy services for children of all abilities. We can help your child and family have a future you’ll love.
This blog post was written by Arty Czarobski, BCBA