How Can Parents Take Short-term Focused Action to Support their Child’s Long-term Development?

Part 1 – Implementing 100-Day Projects

The process of parents learning with their neurodivergent child at home and supporting their child’s development through experiences outside the home is dynamic. While parents have long-term goals in mind, they must observe, see what is doable and worth doing, and decide on next steps. The daily Routine, 100-Day projects and monthly plans are three LIFESMART tools for creating structure and order while being flexible and adaptive. In this blog post, I will introduce the three tools and explain how we implement 100-Day projects in more detail.

Daily Routine

A parent role is different from a teacher’s role. Predictability, order, and structure along with flexibility and adapting to change is how parenting works and what learning at home involves. Further, the daily routine integrates activities with parents and other activities to provide a comprehensive picture of how the child spends his time daily. The point of the daily routine is not to be rigid but to provide some overall structure to guide the flow of activities while being open to what happens!

Do 100-Day Projects

Short-term focused action has been the biggest challenge I have faced over the years. We are faced with too much information, many competing perspectives, and many goals and skills to work towards at any given time. It is not possible to address everything that needs to be addressed at any given time.
Stay focused on the doable.

Your routine today has taken shape because of what you and your child can do. That is your starting point. Write down how your child spends time throughout the day. Then, think of possibilities for improvements.

The 100-day project is the core LIFESMART practice. It is intended as a tool for organizing short-term effort in the face of unpredictability and uncertainty. Choose one or two of the activities in your daily schedule for targeted improvement with a 100-day project. Ground yourself with a daily routine, monthly plan, and 100-day projects. Then, use observation, information from family members, therapists and other professionals, information from other parents etc. to make progress gradually over time.

Develop your Monthly Plan

There is no point worrying about what will happen 5 years from now, 10 years from now etc. Visualize what you want to see happen in the future but then focus on what you are doing now. Short-term focused action is what moves you towards your long-term goals.
While the 100-Day project is also a short-term technique, the monthly plan is of shorter duration. Also, a 100-Day project is about making a small, targeted improvement through focused and consistent action. On the other hand, the monthly plan brings together 100-day project activities and other activities in the daily routine into a one-month plan.

The Five Ps of Planning

Identify priorities: What is doable and worth doing now is an important question. For example, I may think reading is very important but if the child is not ready then this activity is not doable and may not be the best choice for focused effort at that point. Consider what is doable at that time to identify possibilities and prioritize. Once you have priorities, you can choose your path forward, identify what you and your child will practice (all skills development needs practice!) and how you will track progress. Consider the five Ps (Possibilities, Priorities, Paths, Practice, Progress) when you make the monthly plan. The five Ps of planning and other LIFESMART elements are shown in the LIFESMART canvas below.

Implementing a 100-Day Project

In this blog post, I will introduce the LIFESMART Canvas and discuss one of the three implementation techniques – the 100-Day project. In my next post, I will discuss how l three components (daily routine, 100-day project, and monthly plan) work together
The LIFESMART Canvas is a visual tool that provides a systemic view of 100-Day projects. It shows different interacting elements to consider in implementing effective projects.

The LIFESMART 100-Day Lab Worksheet

The LIFESMART 100-Day worksheet integrates the elements of the LIFESMART canvas into a planning tool. Below, I have shown how we are planning our 100-Day projects using the LIFESMART worksheet.

I. Add the right experiences in the right environments
The daily routine is the starting point for adding the right experiences. List the activities and think about the design of your current daily routine. Analyzing your current routine provides insights into what is doable and worth doing not.

The goal of our 100-Day project is to develop routines, habits, and systems for independent learning. This goal will guide the design of experiences.

Ananth’s Current Routine

• Walk
• Dance
• BBA study
After lunch
• Coding
• Walk
• Dance
• Video planning/ taping
After Dinner
• Tamil
• BBA study
• Video planning/ taping
• Ramana Maharshi Self-inquiry satsang

II. Make your monthly plan
A. Map the Journey: The Five Ps

2. Make a list of possibilities.
Consider your son or daughter’s daily routine and make a list of possible 100-Day projects that you can do now.

Our list as of July 14, 2023
• Independent Learning
• Smile Brightly and Dance
• Storytelling videos
• Fold, Color, Talk videos
• Ramana Maharshi Satsang stories
• Academic study
• Coding

3. Make a list of priorities for the month. Priorities are identified through an ongoing process of discovery. Ask: What is doable and worth doing now?
Encouraging independent work is the priority for this month and for the next few months.
Independent Learning
o Smile Brightly and Dance
o Storytelling videos
o Fold, Color, Talk videos
o Ramana Maharshi Satsang stories
o Academic study
o Coding
In the prioritized list, all possibilities have been listed under independent learning as that is the main100-Day project. In all the projects, we will focus on how to encourage independent learning.

4. Choose your path for the month. What changes will you make to your current path? Consider the four LIFE elements:
o L: Learning Daily
Develop independent learning habits, routines, and systems. We have found “second brain” solutions to be critical for independent learning.
o I: Interests
Increase motivation through pairing independent work with areas of interest (dance, storytelling)

o F: Family Interactions
One of the goals of encouraging independent work is to reduce my interactions and involvement. Due to high stress experienced recently, independent learning has been affected. Now stress issues have been addressed enough that we can focus more on independent learning.

o E: Engagement with Community
Ananth’s Adventures Youtube channel is becoming an integral part of our family interactions as well as engagement with the community. Practicing some video development tasks independently is part of our 100-Days of Independent Learning project.

5. What skills will you practice daily?
In all the independent learning projects, we will practice the skills of imitation, repetition, memorization, and improvisation.

6. How will you track progress?
One key metric is the amount of time spent in independent work daily,

B. Implement 100-Day projects

7. What 100-Day project(s) or activities did you start this month?
Starting independent learning projects
8. How is your 100-Day project changing the daily routine? Why?
Carefully designed independent learning activities will be an integral part of the daily routine.

9. What 100-Day project activities are you continuing daily? Why?
We are continuing oral story narration from our previous 100-Day project daily.

10. How can you extend your 100-Day practice with open-ended explorations?
Extension happens naturally through our imitate, repeat, memorize, improvise is our core process

Join our 365-Day Exploration group on Whatsapp to learn about LIFESMART and practice techniques such as the 100-Day project. Our goal is to encourage, inform, and support parents in thinking about possibilities and implementing focused and consistent short-term action towards long-term goals

Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Morpheus Nag

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