If you feel your kid’s mood is a little off during quarantine, check out how you can use three strategies that form the core of my Functional Nutrition and Learning Practice:
1. Learning led by child
Click to listen to detailed strategies and ideas.
Disclaimer: The information in this Podcast is for educational purposes only. Vaishnavi Sarathy, Ph.D. is an educator, not a doctor, specifically not your child’s doctor. Please consult your physician before implementing any supplement or diet recommendations.
Hey there, welcome to another week of perhaps sitting at home and wondering if your kids are ever going back to school. I am just signing off from my daughter’s meeting about potential options for next year. And after years of grumbling over the differences in education, quality, and accessibility between my daughter and my son providentially, it’s so happening, they’re probably in the same place right now. My son, who has been homeschooled for years now might actually be in a better place with respect to the quality of education he receives because they actually know what to do with them. I know what I’m doing.
Welcome back to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m your host Vaish. And that is spelled Vaish. I’m here because I am passionate about kids with disabilities getting good food, and good learning. And today we’re going to talk about the very hot subject of mood issues, especially when your kid is at home. And no, I’m not talking about your mood. I’m talking about your kid’s mode.
To be honest, perhaps we’ve never actually talked, or maybe we might never talk about your mood in this podcast if you are a mom or dad. Perhaps there are other podcasts and other people for that because we are getting to the kids. And in the nature of eye-catching articles, we’re going to do three tips to balance mood.
Now as we adjust to kids sitting at home the whole day, who would have thought right? This is literally what doctors pediatricians psychologists have been warning against for years. Kids need to move kids need to interact. Kids need to physically experience they need tactile stimulation more than us they need less screen time. They need to breathe fresh air. And perhaps we’re doing everything we were told not to do with kids virtually no two ways about it. There’s nothing we can do but this is now being considered the new normal.
Kids in masks kids in front of screens kids at home all day kids interacting with and learning from a screen as opposed to tactile hands-on experiential learning. Now, my daughter goes to a Montessori school, as did my son until he was six. Maria Montessori has emphasized beyond everything the importance of hands-on learning, of following the child’s lead of allowing nonlinear education to happen in a physical setting.
Why we have upended this entire process, there’s one thing to remember, we might be disrupting mode on a scale that we’ve never experienced. And we can all attest to this just based on our moods, right? For adults, this might be more associated with COVID, anxiety, financial anxiety, job pressures, having children at home all the time, and so on. But for kids often having an adult stressed out might be enough. Even an adult who’s clearly not in a comfortable space with the child at home, how about staring at the screen the whole day and being expected to learn from it?
How about being neurodivergent and not having the outlets you need for optimal function? What do you do?I am sure many of you are in the same boat as I am and said my son spent many of his first days in quarantine in a state of semi-depression, even though his routine was actually not disrupted that much. Because he’s a homeschool kid now that that minuscule disturbance was enough to throw him off quite a bit.
We cannot underestimate the level of disruption we’re bringing specifically to the lives of kids with disabilities learning challenges sensory needs. kids for whom a neurotypical Play Day is therapeutic and prescribed and simulated in therapy environments. Okay, enough already with making you feel bad. That was not the idea. The good news, the bad news is we’re doing stuff and the mood can be disrupted.
The good news is that no matter how bad things get, there are always things we can do about it. Perhaps each person cannot do everything. But with adaptations, most of us can do something. So let’s get started. For me what was idea number one? Mix it up education, also known by its fancy name, I love to talk about it nonlinear education.
The time is ripe to let your child learn naturally. Now, if your child is experiencing signs of anxiety, especially in relation to learning, teach nonlinearly I have done a podcast a little bit about nonlinear education. And that was episode number 33. You can scroll back about seven episodes to find that. Now, what does this mean? Let me give you an example.
For years I’ve been teaching to try to teach my son via a curriculum last year or even enrolled him in an online public school with a rigid structured curriculum that he is cognitively more than capable of doing. He has shown me numerous times he gets the math he gets the science. He gets everything else He just doesn’t perhaps get the idea of why he needs to do it or he’s just not interested.
I had to push him to cajole him to beg him to do his homework and his lessons. And I don’t know if you know this, I suspect you do. But often with autistic kids, this doesn’t work. A lot of times, it’s all or nothing. Okay? Of course, you’ve probably experienced this with your kids.
There’s also the famous stubbornness that we associate with kids with Down syndrome. Oftentimes, kids with a disability will find that the interest is 100%. Or nope, not that right. This is such a good opportunity to ditch the cajoling and the forcing to learn things, you know, my way or basically, I was going to say, my way or the highway, but more the academic neurotypical way.
This is so awesome. Such an awesome time to start with a topic or a project that is naturally interesting to your child and go from there. We feel wondering what this has to do with mood It has everything to do with mood learning is the mother of mood. Okay? For example, if we were to chat with 10, moms of kids aged seven to eight, let’s say with Down syndrome, chances are that they would be teaching them how to read or how to learn numbers.
Let’s twist that a little bit. How about if you teach them something unrelated, but something that you wouldn’t think of teaching first before you’re taught numbers? And I know I always pick space signs. How about you teach them how a rocket works before teaching them the alphabet, right? So today, I pick something else.
Let’s say it’s cows or swings to things that you would not normally associate with deep learning. But if it’s an area of interest, let’s take cows, it could be mammals, it could be grazing, it could be the intestinal function and structure of a herd of grazing animals like cows, it could be understanding herbivores and carnivores, and omnivores. It could be greenhouse emissions associated with you know, with cattle hybridizations of animals history of animal husbandry, India, perhaps where cows are revered, and the history of that, see how much you can cover from an interest-centric model. Learning happens, but not in a linear fashion. Are you wondering about swings now? I’m going to get there.
Okay. So suppose your child loves swings? Where would you go from there? Gravity pendulums, Galileo, who discovered key properties of pendulum motion, the scientific revolution that happened during the time of Galileo, the moons of Jupiter that Galileo saw for the first time, angular momentum, right? Do you want me to keep going? Learning is a key regulator of mode, and variety in learning is even more important. And as we change input and keep building in variations that feed into a child, we build new neural pathways and make different responses to the same problem available to the child.
If you Google a bet, you’ll find that many many there are many, many links for depression in children with learning issues. So the opposite correlation is very well known, right? Is that if you have mood issues, you have trouble learning? But in my experience, if you flip this, when you provide learning on the child’s terms, mood can also be positively impacted.