Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Check Your Child's Development

picture credit:
Many times when schools are called by parents who are concerned about their child's development an Ages and Stages Questionnaire is sent to the family to fill out. This is a fairly quick set of questions that look at all the areas of a child's development based on their age. Our public health system also uses this in their Follow Along program. You can now do this yourself anytime you want to online.

Easter Seals now has this available on their website. You input your child's birthday and the correct questionnaire opens up. You fill it out (trying the things with your child that you are not sure about) and then you submit it. You receive the scores by email a week or two after submitting the questionnaire.

Developmental Milestones Screening

The first five years are critical in a child's life. And this is the most important time to get your child support for a developmental delay or special need.

Children develop skills, or "milestones," at their own pace. How is your child doing? You only need 10-20 minutes to check with the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®, Third Edition. Your ASQ-3™ results will help you see if your child's developmental progress is on time and alert you to concerns that you can talk over with your health care provider.

Please note: ASQ-3™ is designed for screening, not diagnosis. It is a quick check for children from birth through age five. If your child is age six or older, please discuss his or her development with your child's health care provider, your local school district, or your child's teacher. Results from the questionnaire will be emailed to you within two weeks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Press Here

If you only buy one book next year make it this one! I am totally in love with Press Here by Herve Tullet (he is known as the Prince of Preschool in France). What's so special about this book you ask? The dots are magical. Yep, its an interactive book. It's not a digital book, it has a sturdy cover and thick glossy pages and it's amazing. This book is available at the Dakota County Libraries
Follow the directions in the book
See what happens to the dots!
(they change colors, move around on the page, grow....)

There are so many learning activities you can do with your child to extend this book.
  • Get a package of dot stickers and let your child make a dot collage.
  • Make a small booklet with some white sheets of paper folded together and let your chidl put dots on each page. Now have your child dictate to you what the directions should be on each page.
  • Do you have dot markers/painters at home? Your child could make dot pictures with those.

This mother has some great ideas to extend learning with this book: Crayon Freckles

I've also pinned a number of activities on a Pinterest board because it's just that fun. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making Chores Fun!

Wait, what?! Chores can be fun? Yep they sure can. If you look at the previous post you'll see a young boy vacuuming in his superhero costume. Here are some other ways:

Make a game out of the chores. Washing the floor can be huge fun if the children dress in their swimsuits and socks. Have a large bucket of warm soapy water on hand and have them swim on their bellies across the floor. Fun and a clean floor in one go. (reminds me a bit of Pippi Longstocking)

Use chore sticks. Write the names of various chores on wooden craft sticks but don’t forget to write some fun ones too… watch a movie, make popcorn, trade a chore, read a book etc. Have the children pick out three sticks and then complete those chores… they can pull sticks as many times as they like to try for the bonus sticks as long as all the chores get done.

2011-01-26-balls.JPG Or make them chore balls, these are pingpong balls in a jar.

This mom has a great way to make chores fun and a family activity 

If you want to use a chore chart here are a few different ones. Most are downloadable (and FREE) and one goes to a site where a very creative mom (with lots of time apparently) made some fun chore charts for her kids. Ooooh if I had the time..... 

Kids and Chores part 2

So now that you know why chores are such a good thing to have your child start helping with, here are some ways you can go about it.

The next time you are doing laundry let your 2 year old match the socks together. It's great practice in matching and helps prepare them for school. While you're doing laundry they can practice taking clothes into the right rooms too. The clothes may not stay quite as nicely folded as they were to begin with, but at least they are practicing helping around the house. This is also a great time to teach them to put their clothes in the dirty clothes hamper, a skill you definitely want them to practice now while their little, the older they get, the harder it seems to be to get them to walk across the room to do it.

Your preschooler can easily help you set the dinner table, just be careful not to use your best china, it may end up in pieces before the night is through. They can also help you water the flowers in the summer. You could also have them wipe down the cupboards with a rag or clean the windows with a spray bottle full of water.

As they get a little older you can teach them how to fold their clothes and make their bed. They can even sweep and mop the floor for you. Things likely won't be as clean as if Mommy did them, but they are learning the value of hard work, which is more important than having a perfectly clean house anyway.

But my child is delayed and has a disability... My answer to that is "So?" there's no reason your child with special needs can't help out with chores some how. You just have to be a little more creative. Here is an article giving 9 Chore Suggestions for your child with special needs.
Not sure if you noticed but this boy has Down Syndrome

Some of the ways I've adapted chores for people with disabilities when working in group homes: 

  1. When teaching how and where to vacuum I would empty the hole punch all over the floor, when the dots were gone the vacuuming was done. You could use anything, its just that usually in group homes you 3-hole punch a LOT of pages.
  2. When teaching how to sweep the kitchen floor I put a small masking tape square on the floor and they had to get all the dirt and debris into the square. That's a trick I learned from Maria Montessori, she was a great one for teaching children how to to tasks and then letting them go and do them. She taught children with special needs for many many years.
  3. When setting the table we had place mats we made out of construction paper that we traced all the items and where they go, then we laminated them and everyone had their own. So whoever was setting the table knew where to put the fork and spoon and plate and so on. I use this with my daughter all the time (my husband too if I'm being completely honest).
These are some sites that show you how you can teach practical life skills in a fun way. These not only help teach how to do chores but increase fine motor skills and planning skills which are precursors to writing. (Ahhh, see, that's the teacher in me. I will usually point out how the mundane thing you are doing can relate to your child's learning). (for this one scroll down past all the gobledy gook. It took me a while to figure it out, not sure what happened to their site but the article is there at the bottom. I love how they sort them out into age groups)

Kids and Chores part 1

Do your children have chores at home? At what age did you start giving them chores. If you haven't started yet you should seriously consider it. The toddler through early elementary years are when kids LOVE to help out with household tasks. Ok, yes, whey they are still fairly young they don't do the best job but that really isn't the point. When your young child is doing chores you praise them for their effort. When my daughter was 2 1/2 her absolute favorite thing to do was the dusting. I had some very clean spots and some that were routinely missed, but that's ok, she was so proud of herself for helping me. Did I go back later and "fix" it? Nope, because then all you are teaching them is that they can't do it right so why bother doing it at all, Mom will just do it over. Now that she's almost 6 her dusting skills have greatly improved. She is very good at noticing where things are dusty and cleaning them off. About once a week I see her running past the kitchen to the hall closet yelling, where's the duster? Hopefully she will continue to enjoy dusting as she grows up. I also let her mop the kitchen and do some of the dishes in the sink. The dishes that she washes are probably the cleanest in the house.  Give them a couple of tasks and as they get older help them see how they can improve while doing that job. Here are some reasons why your child should have some chores at home.

They will feel a sense of accomplishment
When kids finish tasks successfully such as ones that help their parents out, they feel a sense of accomplishment. They feel as if they were productive and they did something that grown ups usually do. If your kids are great with their chores and they do them constantly, dont' forget to praise them for their help. A compliment, an allowance, or even just a small gift once in a while will make them happy and it'll make it all worth it for them.

They will learn about house upkeep which will help them later in life
Just think about all of those people who get married and still know nothing about how to keep a house running smoothly; now just imagine your kids being the opposite of that because you gave them chores as young kids and they know how to get things done. This is one of the reason why it's imperative that they start to help out around the house at a young age; it will give them the ability to know things about house keeping when they are moving away from home or getting married.

Having responsibilities like chores provides one with a sense of both purpose and accomplishment

Make your life easier
Your kids can actually be of help to you! At first, teaching these chores may require more of your time and energy, but in many cases your child will be able to eventually do his or her chores completely independently, ultimately relieving you of certain responsibilities.

Chores may make your child more accountable
If your child realizes the consequences of making a mess, he or she may think twice, knowing that being more tidy in the present will help make chores easier

Develop fine and gross motor skills and planning abilities
Tasks like opening a clothes pin, filling and manipulating a watering can and many more actions are like a workout for the body and brain and provide practical ways to flex those muscles!

Teach empathy
Helping others out and making their lives easier is a great way to teach empathy. After your daughter completes a chore, you can praise and thank her, stating, “Wow… great job! Because you helped out, now Mommy has one less job to do. I really appreciate that!”

Did you know that chores did all that?

Are We There Yet? Is It Time Yet?

20 Visual Timers For Children With Special Needs

Have you ever told your child "5 more minutes" (or any other length of time) and then have them ask how long that is? We can set timers and many of us usually do, but timers are not all that helpful when you are still waiting and anticipating the beeping when the time is up. I've used a visual timer with my daughter since she was about 2. She's almost 6 now and she still prefers the visual timer to the digital timer. Often these timers are sold at Autism shops or in catalogs that pertain to special education. You will find them in may preschool and kindergarten classrooms now because those teachers have discovered the timers and LOVE them. Recently I received an email with a link to an article about time timers. This article lists many different options; physical timers, iPad/phone/pod timers, and android timers. Check it out (and remember that many times an app will have a free/lite version to try it out, those are the ones I use).

20 Visual Timers for Children