The DIR- Floortime model was developed by Dr Stanley Greenspan and Dr Serena Wieder. The Developmental (D), Individual-Difference (I), Relationship-Based (R) model of assessment and intervention is the framework that we use at Mighty Oaks. The DIR-Floortime model addresses the child’s developmental capacities; difficulties in sensory, motor, cognitive and language/ communicative development; and the capacity to interact warmly in a back-and forth manner with adults and peers.

Greenspan's developmental stages apply to all children regardless of language profile and level of difficulties. We find the model really useful with any child who needs support to develop better social communication skills. It applies equally well to children in local kindergartens and international mainstream schools. 

In a classroom setting the Floortime model helps us to tailor the way we approach and interact with each child. According to Dr Greenspan, relationships between the child and others around him/ her are affected by the child’s biology. For example, a child with language delays may not know how to approach other children and how to keep the interaction going, particularly if something goes wrong and he is misunderstood. A child with a weak vestibular system may be inattentive in class, moving around, trying to get his sensory needs met. He may not pay too much attention to the nonverbal communication of his peers and feel left out. A child who is over-responsive to touch may feel under threat when sitting on the floor close to other children and subjected to accidental touch when other children lean over or move past him. This child may misunderstand the intentions of his peers and react with anger when approached in a friendly manner. We investigate what is going on and provide nurturing Floortime-interactions not just when we play on the floor, but also during circle time, art, music, cooking, work time, snack time, facilitated play and in the sensory gym.

Children love Floortime work because it is so empowering. We follow their interests and help them to express what they feel, experience and think. We are their voices and help them to understand what their peers' intentions are when they don't understand what is going on. When watching our ex-students interact with others in large mainstream classes after discharge, we are frequently so proud of their abilities to play, interact and handle disagreements. The skills they learn at Mighty Oaks are well generalized into other settings. Skills learned in a small group with strong staff support help children really learn to interact better and stay calmer in class.

It requires special training to use the model and our teaching staff is Floortime-certified at basic, intermediate or advanced levels. Suvi is in the process of completing her expert certification. Mighty Oaks is now a registered Floortime school under ICDL, the foundation that was established by Dr Greenspan.

More info about Floortime

  • The interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders http://www.icdl.com/
  • The Greenspan Floortime Approach http://www.stanleygreenspan.com     
  • Greenspan & Wieder, 1998: The Child with Special Needs
  • Greenspan, 2000: Building Healthy Minds.
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