June 30, 2009

21st Century Solutions

There's no getting around it: Hadley misses a certain amount of instruction in her recreational activities. When she was younger, we dealt with that issue by either volunteering to coach her sports teams or hovering around the field, cluing her in to information she missed. At home, we reviewed instructions that were given and reminded her of key rules just before the next game or session. To be honest, there was a level of nagging involved that none of us liked!

By first grade, we were all in agreement that Hadley needed to be on her own more in these activities-- it was definitely time to put her skills to the test. Over the past year, we've learned a bit more about what works for Hadley (at least for now). Like any kid who is in the early stages of learning a new sport, there needs to be some support and practice at home. We realized this spring that Hadley wasn't sure of some of the new drills they were learning in lacrosse, so Dan and I made sure that one of us paid attention during practice to know what "Steal the Bacon" was all about. We had learned last summer that it helps Hadley to videotape short portions of swimming lessons, but she was self conscious of being videotaped this year. As a substitution, I tried to bring her to her practices 5 or 10 minutes early so she could watch the teams that were finishing up and have those images in her mind when her team began. This worked well for indoor soccer, since the acoustics in the building where they played made it nearly impossible for Hadley to hear anything.

This spring, I was surprised when her softball coach sent an email to the team, giving links to several YouTube videos about proper batting form. I had never thought about YouTube as an instructional site but, once I started searching, I found all kinds of instructional videos that seemed to be the perfect answer. Hadley loves watching the short videos and feels extremely grown up to be using the computer in this way. So far, Dan and I have found videos that help reinforce how she's being taught to swing her golf clubs and throw a lacrosse ball, as well as demonstrate swimming strokes. We've made sure to find videos that mirror what her coaches are teaching, but in just a few minutes of searching, we have been able to find a video that suits the purpose. Some of her coaches, when asked, already have a few to recommend. The end result is that Hadley has gained a better understanding of what her coaches are teaching and is able to fill in some of the missing gaps. She is more confident of herself and more inclined to throw herself into each activity. She is engaged in each activity from beginning to end. Hadley even received a special sportsmanship award at the end of the softball season this spring!

She may never be a star athlete and she may drop some of these sports sooner than later. For now, it's another way for Hadley to connect with friends, learn in a group, and finetune the skills needed to be part of a team-- just like all the other kids. Plus, she's got a load of cool new t-shirts to wear all summer at the beach.

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