Q: How can I assist a child in my class who presents with a learning difficulty?
A: ROMBI play is useful in a number of ways. Here are a couple:
- Teacher observation of a learner engaging with a simple puzzle makes perceptual issues visible. The value of ROMBi play is that as the learner engages with the puzzles,the perceptual issues are also being addressed. A puzzle task easily be simplified to provide an entry point for learners of almost any level. Once on the first rung of the perceptual ladder, a learner is can begin to build progress through their own discoveries. (resolving left right confusions, finding proportion, becoming familiar with rotation)
- Learner play with the puzzles improves perceptual organisation and other perceptual faculties including: memory, attention, concentration, organisation, time management, the ability to avoid unwanted distractions, improvements in physical coordination, even numerical abilities should improve in due course. This enables them to quickly access and to demonstrate much more of their potential. This experience of greater success opens doors to further possibilities.
Q: Children can become bored with the same puzzles repeatedly. Is this more of the same? How will the Rombi engage the student?
A: ROMBi seems to be quite intriguing for many people, drawing their interest and curiosity to explore it in an ongoing way.
- ROMBi is a tool for accessing and building abilities promptly and steadily. These are mostly abilities that we don't realise that we have. It doesn't need to be forced, and it is more effective in the long term that it is not forced. Where a learner has engaged and ceases to be interested, ROMBi can just remain available for when it is needed. If they are able to complete all the puzzles well, and don't feel that they need it, then ROMBi has done it's work and they can confidently move on to something else that challenges them further.
- There are many puzzles to choose from; over 50 puzzles in the 16 block set and 60 in the 36 block set. For teachers, there are even more puzzles available for purchase from foundation level, 2 block, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 12 block puzzles.
- Some learners may think that the puzzle is too difficult for them and may need some initial support to engage with it. A little patience and a few discreet clues or encouragement are making a significant difference to a learner finding their way to completing a puzzle. As they experience the perceptual benefits from the puzzle play, they tend to feel an excitement for future possibilities.*
- In our experience, it doesn't take much persuasion for most students to engage with ROMBi. Sometimes there may be embarrassment or fear underlying an initial reticence. Curiosity quickly takes over as their hands begin to explore the blocks and they begin engaging with the puzzle. The less speech and the more hands-on engagement, the better.
- *It may take a little longer to generate learner excitement in some adults experiencing depression. This is due to more strongly held beliefs about improvement being impossible.
Q: Does the student need to supervised to do this activity or does it need to be done with a TA or teacher?
A: This will depend on where the learner is. Some may benefit from initial oversight until they become able to sustain engagement independently. This is the direction that we would be aiming for, and what ROMBi play makes increasingly possible.
Q: Ideally what would be the best time to get the student to do a puzzle - ie. first thing in the morning? or if they are panicky before a test etc.
A: Either of these may be relevant. Again, it depends of the needs of the learner. At the beginning, if they are introduced to ROMBi under conditions of exam stress, doing a puzzle beforehand will help. For learners who become regular ROMBi users, we expect exam panic to reduce significantly or disappear in most cases.
Q: Is there time during the day to fit the Rombi in?
A: ROMBI play is flexible, it can be done any time of the day. At first, the morning might be a good way of setting the learner up to be at their best for the day's work. As consistent ROMBi play progresses (eg, daily), this doesn't matter, as there will be carry over effects from the previous play. In the early days, uplift in perceptual organisation lasts for 2-3 days afterwards, when learners are likely to feel the effects wearing off. With regular play for a sustained period, it is likely that the synaptic connections will be stimulated that mean that the lower threshold of perceptual functioning is higher than before meeting ROMBi.
Q: What benefits does the Rombi give? ie. capturing the students attention, bringing the focus into one central area, can it be used to manage behaviour?
A: ROMBi play offers many benefits, including unexpected ones that Rombi users are reporting to us. Some of the more common ones include reducing tension, increasing the ability to sustain attention and to focus on tasks in a educational or workplace context, enhancement of ability range and levels, mood uplift, better time management and organisation etc.
A: The question of managing behaviour is an interesting one, which has several dimensions. Here are a few the obvious ones:
This is a prominent aspect of classroom experience for Teachers. The reasons for behaviour issues are many and complex. Where a learner is unable to concentrate, due to distraction issuing from perceptions of their immediate environment or from other worries or concerns, this can lead to domino effects of wider reverberations in the classroom. Eg, To a pupil who seems to be looking out of the window rather than listening, a Teacher may say, 'Pay attention, James.' Another child may then echo this with a joke, by repeating what the teacher has said. Pay attention, James, then becomes a ripple of wider pupil distraction from the subject of the lesson. The pupil who makes the joke might also have been out of focus with the lesson; otherwise, their timing might not be readily available for a joke. An opportunity for diffusion of the concentration levels in the classroom in this case might be a welcome relief too.
Whatever else is happening either in the immediate environment or in memory and imagination, the structured hand-play offered by the ROMBi puzzle has valuable grounding effects, reducing anxiety generally and enabling learners to take in what is being said more effectively, so that they are able to benefit from what is being taught. Steady use builds on this capacity consistently, leading to different responses and better outcomes in various aspects of learning.
ROMBi is a valuable tool for Teachers' CPD, reducing overload, with greater scope for interactions with pupils that are less strenuous and more easily bring the charge of interest back to the subject matter.
Conflict resolution is an area where ROMBi can play a part in quickly calming emotions, facilitating different perspectives and new ways of responding.
Q Can you make your own puzzle patterns and would it help the student in the same way?
- A: Yes, exploring the blocks in your own way is valuable. We expect that any play with the blocks will have beneficial effects. This may be particularly relevant for learners who are not yet ready to engage with the printed patterns or those who are not seeking systematic uplift of perception and just want to play for fun, relaxation.
- A: For systematic uplift of perceptual organisation/integration, we recommend that learners work with the patterns as well. The process of implementing the pattern offers valuable 'error testing', enabling learners to note inconsistencies between the pattern and their representation of it with the blocks. This prompts further awareness in learners, which stimulates further development. It also prepares learners for reading instructions from outside one's own mind more accurately.
Q: Mental Health is very prominent in schools at the moment. How can Rombi assist with this? Does it aid in the same way as mindfulness? Taking time out from the thing which is making a situation stressful eg. tests, exams, deadlines, new environments, new teachers.
A: ROMBi play brings structure, organisation, a sense of being more secure and well-grounded; bringing general calming and stabilising effects on emotion, while increasing the ability to express intelligence and life energies in rewarding ways.Other things being equal, it supports mental health and well-being.
A: Yes, all the examples that you site are common beneficial points. ROMBi offers some additional benefits for a structured learning environment. The effects of the puzzle enables learners to tune in to the ideas framing the lesson; becoming better able to interpret instructions in accordance with what is being asked and to subsequently respond in rewarding ways.
A: Meditative practices such as mindfulness have their own benefits in less tangible ways. A great starting point for a wellness programme would include some form of regular meditative practice (eg, 15 minutes a day of resting language-based thinking and focus on breathing) AND use of ROMBi play.
Q: ADHD - Could ROMBi aid with capturing the attention of the student and willingness to apply themselves? Quite often in the school environment the biggest challenge for the teacher is finding the time and support to be able to apply the techniques and very often they start with good intentions, but other things end up taking priority. This is often why children with attention and behaviour difficulties end up being excluded from activities, as there is not enough support in the classroom to adopt these strategies. How can Rombi make a difference? Can it be done whilst a class is going on? Does the child not need to be supervised? Can it be used in a ‘time-out’ zone that incorporates the puzzle challenge?
A: Most often the issue arises because the learner has not yet discovered how to become able to apply themselves, rather than unwilling. Seeming unwillingness is likely to be due to their not being able to identify or communicate what is preventing them from being able to focus on study. This is often the case for many people; something isn’t quite working, they don’t know what it is and they respond by refusing to engage. We expect that ROMBi play would bring calming and integration to disorganisation of perception that ADHD implies.
A: Your question also incorporates several possible ways that Teachers can use ROMBi to improve the learning situation. Whatever the situation, Teachers are better placed where ROMBi is close at hand. These can include:
- Time-out sessions can become productive learner development opportunities, where we would expect learners to be better placed to re-join the class later. More relaxed and better able to focus. With ADD, this may mean being more grounded and aware of their surroundings so that they can better interact with the timing, organisation and subject matter of lessons;
- Teacher CPD - inspiration for user-friendly adjustments that ease matters for the teacher, the class or for individual learners; eg, the way that a lesson is delivered, or the classroom arranged, or particular sensitivities of the learner –eg, triggered by red, orange, or the smell of some art materials;
- Teacher-Pupil - One-to-one time of only a few minutes observing the learner interacting with ROMBI can offer many clues to how to address issues.