Zone of proximal development is a fancy way of saying that people learn best when there is repetition and variety — enough repetition to create familiarity and comfort (proximity) — and enough variety to create interest and a challenge (development) . . . when they are close enough to what they've already mastered, yet far enough from it to be challenged.
Seems obvious, but it's not something one really thinks about unless one is involved in teaching profoundly impaired children in autism spectrum, as Dr. Karen Erickson, Director of the University of North Carolina's Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, has been. Two weekends back, at an autism conference at PACE University, I had the privilege of hearing her talk about teaching ASD children and young adults to read, and I was absolutely dazzled by what she shared. But that is a story for another day. In the meantime, at our own zone of proximal development. . .
This year instead of just having a rockclimbing party for her birthday, Sweet M added a few components from the gymnastics facilities at the Chelsea Pier. She knew the drill for the rockclimbing piece of things, and added in the rope swing and tramopline.
And we were delighted to be joined by our fellow travelers in Autismland, from across the Hudson, Charlie Fisher and his awe-inspiring parents Kristina Chew and Jim Fisher. A happy birthday was had by all.
Kids scramble for piñata treats.