The last two posts have introduced you to how I approach working with Andrew at home by meeting him where he is, providing activities that are developmentally appropriate for him and knowing what he needs to work on and where we are heading with those skills. Hopefully you have some ideas for skills you want to work on with your child. I can honestly say that when we first compiled our list of skills to work on, I was a bit overwhelmed thinking I had to work on everything right then and there. I realized early on that trying to do too much at onceÂ was not going to work and would only drive me crazy. I always remind myself that making progress only requires taking one step at a time. It doesn’t matter if it is a big step or a little step, either one moves me, and in this case Andrew, forward 🙂 .
Conquer by Choosing and Combining
I decided that the best way for me was to pick one or two skills from each area to focus on and find ways to combine those with other skills. Here are the skill areas I incorporate:
- fine motor
- gross motor
- oral motor
- problem solving
- social skills
(You can find these on my website and if you select a skill area, it will show you past posts that are focused on that area. This is a great place to find activities, which can be adapted to most seasons and themes.) I will explain more about this in Friday’s post about planning and preparation, but for now think about one or two things from each of these areas that you’d like to work on with your child.
Sneaking In Skill Building
Whenever possible, I pair up a skill that may be more challenging or considered a weakness with one that is a strength (Ex. literacy and fine motor; math and gross motor). I have found that this helps take attention from something that they know they are not strong in by allowing them to build it along with something they feel good about. A great example of this was my recent post on Giant Alphabet Beads. Andrew was willing to work on his stringing/lacing because it was combined with a preferred activity, something he is good at – spelling. Doing this alwaysÂ reminds me of how Jessica Seinfeld, author of â€œDeceptively Deliciousâ€ sneaks vegetables into kid-friendly dishes. Iâ€™m trying to sneak in things that may not be very exciting to work on into fun, kid-friendly activities. This is especially important for children who are very active and like to be moving. Activities that encourage and allow children to be moving while working on another skill makes it so much easier to engage them. The fact that both sides of the brain are activated through cross patterning activities (like creeping, crawling, walking, running, monkey bars, swimming, etc.) doesnâ€™t hurt either :).
Modifying and Adapting Station Activities
The station activities that I share are designed to give you a general idea of ways to approach a certain skill. Please know that most of these can be modified and adapted. I just try to explain the what, why and how so that I can help other people who may be needing something similar. Do not be discouraged if there may be skills that you have to break way down.Â The following is an example of having to do just that with a skill we were working on…
Skill:Â Can build with blocks horizontally and vertically.
Andrew had a very difficult time getting this skill and so I broke it down into a very simple task. The first time, I provided 3 blocks for him and made a model (with the exact same blocks) for him to use as a reference. I wrote out the directions, â€œMake a tower with 3 blocks.â€ When he started lining up the blocks next to each other, I pointed out the model and told him we were going to build the tower up and to see if he could â€œmake the same.â€ After that redirection, he got to work stacking the three blocks. The next time, I did it without the model and the time after that I tried it with 4 blocks, slowly increasing the number of blocks so he would get the concept. This was not something that happened overnight but with a slow and gradual progression, he was learning that a) he could do it, b) there were ways to position the blocks so that they wouldnâ€™t tip over and c) the amount of pressure and steadiness of his hands so that they wouldnâ€™t knock over the blocks when placing one on top. Doing it like this allowed me to engage him in a way that was challenging yet not impossible, encouraged him by showing him that he could do it and empowered him by acknowledging his success and modifying the activity when he did it.
Personal Note: I feel like I have enough information to teach a class on this alone. I hope this is helpful. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to share with you!!
Tomorrow I will share about how to make it engaging, utilizing all learning styles and treasure hunting at home.
Engage, Encourage and Empower!