When I read these words I knew I just had to by the book How Do I Love You? This phrase expresses everything I feel for my boys. Since I bought this first book illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church, I became a super fan! I feel like her collection of books about love connect me and my children during story time. More importantly, Cookie and Chocolate Chip both love these sweet simple stories and beautiful illustrations! I think they are perfect Valentine’s Day books!
We are slowly building our collection, some books in French and some books in English. They are the perfect books to read to your toddlers or preschooler. And from experience, I can vouch that these books are also perfect for special needs children! The books might not be Valentine’s Day themed but they are adorable ways to say I love you to your children. 🙂
Without instilling panic, I would like to remind everyone that there are only 10 days left until Christmas! Plant, Love, Grow has beautiful books, journals, e-books and apps that make the perfect holiday gifts! Apart from being great gifts, they are also wonderful teaching tools.
These inspirational stories are the amazing work of Elaheh Bos, the owner, writer and creator of Plant, Love, Grow, who I had the pleasure of interviewing recently.
I never actually sat down and said: This is it, I will start a company that creates resources. I started doing this because my daughter needed tools that I couldn’t find, so I created the tools. People started asking where they could find them, if I had anything else to help their child. Her teacher asked if she could use what I had created with other students and things slowly grew from there. Long before my daughters came along, I knew I was passionate about writing, illustrating, and believed in our innate potential to learn and grow. I have always believed that our job here is to find our voice and share it. When I started creating these tools and seeing their impact on myself and my family, I knew I had found my voice.
What type of products do you offer?
Plant Love Grow offers books, journals, e-books, apps and a large variety of free downloadable resources. We focus on providing tools that help with the inner development of the child. Issues such as anxiety, anger management, building self-esteem and other aspects of growth. We try hard to create material that is visually appealing and relatable. For them to come to light, our tools must also be practical, realistic, simple to use and must always bring the child back to a happy place of inner potential and personal choice.
Who can benefit from using your products?
The main audience we cater to in providing these tools are parents, teachers and health professionals. They are part of what I consider the triangle of success when it comes to opportunities of introducing and practicing these concepts with children. The tools are for children and some of the journals are for teens or adults. I often hear feedback of parents and teachers also benefiting from adding these strategies and practices into their own lives.
I look at the free resources as opportunities to open a new field of discussion with your child. I try to make a lot of the material blank so that whoever is using them can customize them as much as possible to fit the needs of the child they are working with. This also leaves room for the child to become co-creator of their own resources, helping them own their choices. Some of the tools are there to support the books, allowing for a deeper learning experience. I have learned that repetition is the key to change and having the visual reminders allows us to be constantly in view of the steps we are taking and the direction we wish to head towards.
What is your best advice for anyone trying to teach a child with special needs?
I don’t know what it’s like for some parents or teachers out there, so I would never assume to have the right to give advice. I can only share what I know. This is based on my experience with my child who had special challenges and needs in dealing with extreme anxiety through the form of selective mutism. This is also what I have learned by working with other parents, teachers and some amazing health professionals.
Nurture the care taker: It may seem strange that I would start with that, but I have seen so many parents deplete themselves completely, or live in a state of constant emergency. The problem when we stay in those drained and strained states, is that we are closed to solutions. We are unable to introduce tools and build the foundation for future changes. Introducing a space for possibilities and change can be done by taking time to journal or nurture our personal interests. Growing the circle of love around our child so that we have a way to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Redefine success: Always work from a place of growth. From the first day my children start school, we make it clear that what we are working towards progress. We do not expect perfection, nor do we want them to value themselves simply based on a number on a piece of paper, or a series of words comparing them to others. The goal is self-fulfillment, in whatever shape or form this process takes. When we create a new definition of success for our children, we open up their possibilities by acknowledging all the forms in which their lights shine. Encouragement cards, or charts of personal successes are a great way to focus on effort rather than outcome.
Think outside the box: I have met many amazing parents who have become masters at meeting the needs of their child by using creativity, art, music, dance, sports, imagination and an open mind to the way their children communicate. Whatever the medium that lights up your child’s eyes, use it as your new language to communicate. Thinking outside the box means trying many things, and being open to trying many more things after that.
Create (and share) individual strategy for growth: I have a friend who often sits with me to talk about her son and his challenges at school. The main one being that the school wants him to be a square when he is a circle. We try to create tools to help the school understand how to help a circle succeed and at the same time help the child deal with things when they don’t work out his way. I remember when I was working with the school to help my child. This process made me realize the importance of sharing simple, specific, and measurable strategies. These could be printouts for how the teacher (or whoever is working with your child) should respond to a specific situation or ways to facilitate transitions. Try to share information that is simple to implement, user-friendly, and give them the tools to implement these strategies. It doesn’t always work, but coming from a place of collaboration, mutual interest and helpfulness is always a plus.
Be open to the journey: I believe we are here as guides for our children. We are here to direct them, but also to learn from the many gifts they share with The journey of teaching a child with special needs is more challenging in many aspects, but it can also be more rewarding when we acknowledge the gifts that are shared. Being open to the journey allows us to share our experiences and challenges with others, to be open to all the miracles that we encounter and to learn from every experience.
Chantale is the mother of two handsome boys with autism. Although she is homeschooling them, she is constantly learning from her children. She shares activities that are adapted for special needs on www.virtuallyateacher.com