Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Learning.

Ah, summer.  A fantastic time of year to be a teacher or a student.  Last summer, Ellie still received therapy services through Early Intervention.  This year, however, she was unable to attend the Extended School Year program offered by the district due to our travel plans.



So today, a few of the things we are doing at home to work on some school-type skills but still have fun during summer vacation.  Let me know if these are helpful to you, and feel free to share any other great tips!

Physical Therapy

Ellie has taken up running.  After the whole family was sick for a week, and then vacation, I've been a little on the slow side.  I've been taking Ellie in her stroller while I run, but the other day, she insisted on running herself.  I encouraged her.  Even if my road back to race shape takes longer due to my little shadow on the run, seeing Ellie run is worthwhile.



Ellie is also participating in a summer gymnastics class and going to the pool almost daily.  When we were in Florida, she spent a lot of time walking on the beach, building up her muscles and improving her balance on the uneven surfaces.  Since summer is a good time to slow down, I encourage Ellie to walk in stores independently more often - I'm not as rushed trying to get to the next place on time as I am during the school year.


The World Cup provided some encouragement with kicking skills.

"I kick it!"

Educational

Ellie loves flashcards, so we've begun to work on some word identification.  The words are all high interest.  I just opened a word processing document and wrote the names of familiar people and dropped in a photo of each person.  That's one side of the card.  The other side has the name only.  I cut them out and taped each to a scrap of leftover scrapbook paper.  I should laminate them.  I haven't yet.

Teacher tip: Look for a font that doesn't have the fancy "a."

Since Ellie loves the Treeschoolers DVD about plants, we planted some carrots, onions, and radishes in a "root viewer" toy I bought on zulily.  Ellie's favorite part of that activity was stirring the dirt (adding water to the peat to make it expand.)

Stirring dirt.
We're also counting everything.  All the time.  And yet Ellie still counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11…  So that's our next project!

Occupational Therapy

Fine motor skills are one of Ellie's biggest challenges.  This summer, I'm trying a little bit of everything.  We're coloring a lot on big paper, sticking stickers, and playing with play dough.  My dad and stepmom got Ellie this sticker book with reusable stickers, and that seems to be a favorite.  I'm drawing circles and asking Ellie to add eyes, nose, and mouth.  We're making letters in the sand.  Fine motor skills are so important for school - cutting with scissors, writing, tracing, coloring.




Sensory activities have been playing in the sand and playing with bubbles, especially at our neighbor's birthday party, which had a bubble theme.  Anything to help her feel different textures and strengthen hand muscles is good, including the spray ground and the pool!



Note the glasses on her neck.
And of course, the other big concern with fine motor skills is making sure Ellie can see whatever she's working on.  At this point, she will wear her glasses on her neck.  The glasses journey continues to be one of baby steps.  (If you're on Instagram, I am documenting these baby steps with #elliegetsglasses.)

Speech

Full sentences.  Now, expecting a three year old with Down syndrome to speak in full sentences at all times is probably a lofty goal.  However, I've been using chaining to help Ellie use full sentences for requests.

Example, Ellie wanting me to open a lid on a cup.

Ellie: Help cup!
Mom: Help me open the cup, please.
Ellie: Help open cup, pwease.
Mom: Good job.  Help me open the cup please (and I open it.)

Ellie loves to sing, so we expose her to music when we can and encourage new words to her favorite school song.  Where is _____, where is ____?  We sing about cars in the street, baby dolls in the backseat, hats on our heads, you name it.

Otherwise, we continue to expose Ellie to new language experiences (in English and Spanish) and to praise her for new words and phrases.

A Look Ahead….

Maybe if I share this publicly, I'll do a better job of teaching Ellie some skills that are next on the list, including:
* Getting dressed with more independence
* Potty training (which can be really hard for kids with low muscle tone)
* Cutting soft foods with a knife
* Responding appropriately to questions
* Counting to ten by rote
* Counting objects with 1:1 correspondence

They key in all of these activities has been helping Ellie learn through normal summer play, but intentionally working on areas in which I know she needs a little boost.

I hope you're enjoying your summer vacation!
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1 comment:

  1. What great ideas! I am so impressed with Ellie's speech. And those glasses around her neck ... priceless!

    ReplyDelete

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