New hands-on invention helps visual learners in and out of the classroom

BY RYAN P. CASEY

Any teacher knows how difficult it can be to get an entire classroom of children to follow her instructions. After struggling to keep up with their peers, some of her struggling students go home to parents who nag them to do their chores and their homework, which leads to arguments and tantrums. This cycle repeats daily, and frustrations mount for everyone as these young learners fall behind in their work.

The "Do-N-Slide" will give children independence in doing chores and homework.

But now, two Florida inventors have created a way to stop this cycle before it has serious consequences for learning development. Last month, Kim Van Balveren and Zoe Selkirk of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida received a patent for the “Do-N-Slide,” an innovative visual sequence planner designed for the education and motivation of children.

“The use of ‘visual learning’ in schools is understood to enhance thinking and learning skills,” the patent claims. “Providing a medium that delivers a visual and immediate explanation of a sequence or task is the fastest way for children to associate steps in a process, or changes that may happen during their day.”

The device consists of a board with frame-like openings that allow picture cards – featuring the sequential steps and expectations of an activity like “Make the bed” or “Finish math worksheet” – to move from the ‘To Do’ column to the ‘All Done’ column.  Behind this front piece are other boards that create channels through which the cards can easily pass through, with openings on both sides so that the cards can be inserted or removed.

The “Do-N-Slide” is simple to use, prompting an effortless, hands-on interactivity. Children do not have to write anything or rely on adult assistance. By sliding each card from one column to the other to acknowledge their accomplishments, they gain independence and learn to associate their interaction with the board with their progress and completion of assignments. The picture cards, which are easy to move, circumvent language barriers, reading difficulties and existing learning disorders while training children to take responsibility for their tasks.

The board also avoids the ticklish problem of the reward system, which leads children to think that the objective is not completing their chore, but receiving a treat in return. Rather than bribery, adults can use the board to establish consistent goals so that children will learn over time how to do things on their own, without becoming anxious or forgetting verbal instructions.

And they aren’t the only populations that can benefit from this device. Older children can use the device as a reminder of what they need to do or as a list of chores for helping out around the house. The board can then display more complex tasks like, “Clean bedroom” instead of smaller, individual ones like, “Put away shoes” or “Pick up toys.” Caregivers can also use the board to leave directions for their charges and prevent miscommunications or remind them of critical tasks.

The “Do-N-Slide” doesn’t just help get work done – it improves communication. No more nagging, no more whining, no more arguments. Teachers and parents can certainly appreciate that!

(View the official patent HERE.)

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