The Extra Lesson - The Development of the Senses
The first seven years of the child's life should be primarily focused on the physical and sensory development of the child. This lays down the crucial foundations for all later development, academic learning, behaviour and social integration. Often in our current way of living this natural progression through the developing stages of a child’s life is interrupted or perverted.
When a child struggles at school, it is often because his or her development has not taken the proper course, or not fully. Subsequent remedial work to complete the early years’ tasks then proves vital. That can be in coordination, or in writing, reading and/or the capacity to manage home life and the school environment.
If you feel your child is of average intelligence, or shows signs of being Gifted in certain areas but struggles in others, and is not enjoying school, or is frustrated with learning then The Extra Lesson could make a difference to your child. If your child seems to be ‘stuck’ and cannot progress in their learning development or has problems communicating and is ill at ease with their peers then they could benefit from an individualised programme and one to one guidance to develop their natural senses.
This work on the Development of the Senses has evolved out of the earlier educational work of Audrey Mc Allen called The Extra Lesson.
Parents have found that children and adolescents with dyspraxia; dyslexia; ASD or ADD; fine and gross motor problems; auditory processing, reading, maths and spelling difficulties have greatly benefited from doing The Extra Lesson . Parents have reported that they have been able to understand their child better and at last move forward. And as a parent it means you can let go of some of the frustration you have often been experiencing with a child that is not ‘fitting into the system’; the opportunity to relax more into their relationship with their child and not carry the anxieties on their own. For children, with attention problems, it provides the option of a ‘drug free’ approach and a clearing of the mind – a different perspective on life and an ability to cope better.
The Intervention Programme
An Extra Lesson intervention programme involves weekly sessions with a trained practitioner who will work through an individualised intervention program. This will address the underlying developmental difficulties behind the presenting problems or concerns.
The Extra Lesson session will include movement, co-ordination, speech, drawing and painting exercises to work on the student's difficulties and the 1:1 intervention process rebuilds the student’s self-esteem. The length of time required for the intervention program varies with each child and the time available to parents to support the process. It is necessary to commit to a weekly, hour long session on a 6 week ‘on’ 6 week ‘off’ schedule. A re-assessment will be done after six months. The majority of students have completed their program in 12-18 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is The Extra Lesson?
The Extra Lesson is an assessment and program originally developed by Audrey McAllen in the UK and is based on the holistic developmental perspective of Rudolf Steiner's philosophy of education. Recent research is supporting the link between learning difficulties and child development in the first seven year period.
2. What are some of the common characteristics of children or adolescents who would benefit from Extra Lesson?
• Diagnosed as ADD, ADHD, Dyspraxic, Dyslexic, an Auditory Processing Difficulty or as Gifted and underachieving
• Performing below age level academically, or in others areas appears to be bright
• Avoiding reading and handwriting tasks
• Difficulty with social relationships
• Easily frustrated or blames others, anger attacks or outbursts
• Awkward or tight pencil grip, poor handwriting
• Skips lines when reading, loses place
• Reversals in handwriting/reading or reversals persisted longer than peers
• Easily distracted, short attention span
• Behaviour problems at home and/or school
• Disorganised and/or loses things
• Clumsy or accident prone
• Poor balance, lack of co-ordination, low muscle tone, car sick as youngster
• Difficulty remembering or following instructions
• Appears not to listen (no hearing problems), needs things repeated
• Over emotional or hypersensitive, mood swings
• Low self esteem
• Confuses signs in maths
• Ambidextrous or mixed dominance for different tasks
• Difficulty learning or performing new task
A cluster of three or more of the above indicates that your child has some developmental difficulties and would benefit from an intervention such as the Extra Lesson. (Adolescents may have had some of the characteristics at an earlier age and have found ways to compensate and mask their confusion and ‘appear normal’).
3. Why does my child have learning or behavioural problems?
• Disruption of a child's early development and initial sensory learning experiences can interfere with the subsequent development and learning as the child grows older.
• Learning should be a spontaneous process in most children that comes from natural curiosity. A child who finds learning difficult, or one who has to put in extra effort all the time, may end up feeling frustrated and the end result is low self-esteem and disengagement from the learning process.
Common interferences to early child development:
• Problems or accidents during pregnancy
• A difficult, prolonged, too quick, or interrupted birthing process or C-Section
• Illness e.g. ear infections, tonsillitis or the need for a lot of antibiotics
• Time in a baby -walker or limited movement opportunities
• Excessive passivity e.g. lots of TV, game boy, computer games
• Trauma or emotional upset in the family life
• Adverse reactions to medication or immunisations
• Allergies and food sensitivities
• Post-natal depression
• Accidents in childhood
• And many other interferences to early development. Sometimes the cause is unknown and often the circumstances were unavoidable in the parent/s situation. The main focus is identifying what the developmental issues are for the student and doing something about these rather than focusing on the past that cannot be changed.
4. Why is Extra Lesson different to tutoring?
In The Extra Lesson we work on the idea of giving the child or student a second opportunity to learn by working on the underlying causes so that learning can proceed unimpeded. At a later date after the underlying issues are addressed the student can go back to acquire the learning that was missed earlier if necessary, although this is often unnecessary.
The Extra Lesson process can take up to a year and learning can then proceed with enjoyment. Then the student is free to learn for a lifetime, not just catch up on yesterday's school work.
5. What is involved in an assessment?
The Extra Lesson intervention program involves you and your child or adolescent in an initial assessment. The assessment covers the following areas and standardised tests:
• Parent interview about early development and the areas of concern
• A reflex assessment
• Dominance and laterality assessment
• Fine motor skills (e.g. handwriting and co-ordination)
• Hand-eye co-ordination
• Overall co-ordination, balance and rhythm
• Spatial awareness and body geography
• Eye movements
• Memory and auditory processing
• Behaviour checklist
• General impression of the student's sense of self-esteem and general wellbeing.
The assessment shows the areas that need to be addressed to assist the child to overcome the problems they are having in learning and behaviour. It provides a picture of how the child’s development can be recapitulated to allow a second opportunity to learn and function more easily in the world.
6. How would I know my child could benefit from The Extra Lesson intervention?
If you found a cluster of characteristics (listed in question 2) that fitted your knowledge of your child then The Extra Lesson will make a difference. Parents often know what their children's issues are, although at school your child maybe managing, you may see the extra effort or frustration involved for them in learning or managing their behaviour. Students with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD most commonly have underlying developmental issues and if the opportunity arises to address these issues it provides the student with an increased ability to control their behaviour and learning.
Development of the Senses can benefit anyone of any age. We can all identify with the saying ‘the left hand doesn’t know what the right one is doing’
Or ‘I’m all fingers and thumbs’ or ‘I don’t know which end is up’
General feelings of clumsiness, disorientation, lack of coordination and the inability to remember things (lyrics to songs or more than one direction) can all indicate that at some point our development was not processed correctly.
Development and guidance is beneficial for all and I work with toddlers through to College students and some enlightened adults.
I have found that there is added benefit and speedier progress for the Client when both Homeopathy and The Extra Lesson are combined. This is an additional service that I include when The Extra Lesson Protocol is undertaken. I am able to assess the Client during sessions and prescribe relevant Homeopathic Remedies.