Everyday Learning – Preschool at home
One of the hardest things about coming to Denver was that Whitney would be missing school. We love Whitney’s teacher at her public Pre-K program. Whitney likes going to school and we really saw her development progress throughout the year last year. She has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) with goals in various developmental areas. Some of her cognitive goals are about recognizing colors/shapes/letters, and counting objects. The services she receives at school are specific to helping her reach her IEP goals. It’s hard for me to embrace that she’s not getting those services toward those goals while we’re not there. Luckily, yesterday was the last day of school that she’ll miss–we’ll be home soon!
I like to keep busy with projects and activities…but rarely am I very inspired to do any sort of homeschooling. So I was pleased to realize that with just a little effort on my part (or even sometimes without) the kids are continuing to learn through their play in various ways.
Boggle Junior: have you seen this game? I stumbled upon it at my mom’s house while helping her clean out a closet. I thought it was a tuck-it-away-for-the-future find, but no, the kids are enjoying it now! They flip thought the cards with simple words spelled out on them, and they play around with the dice looking for letters. When I get involved and ask them to say the letters they see on the card and to find the dice the match they are able to do it! I like how it also helps them find the right orientation for the letters to match with the card. Great game! Maybe soon they will start memorizing the spelling for some of these simple words! (Find it on Amazon, at $14)
Color/Shape BINGO: Okay, this was a random cheapo store purchase for the win. The kids will play around with the dots and cards and sometimes say the shapes and colors they see on their own. It works best when I play with them, though, of course. I stack up the cards and let them each pick one. With prompts I can get Whitney to say the color and shape “What is it?? What color?? What shape? A red what?” I like that it has simple shapes but then also some more complicated (i.e. octagon and crescent), and there are 9 different colors to distinguish. Then, there’s fine motor involved in putting the little red circle on the correct square (and recognizing which square is a match to the card). Then we count how many are in a row – – and it is adorable to yell “BINGO!!” and cheer. They pretty much want to always play through double and triple BINGO and all the way to Blackout.
Memory Junior: We just had our first experience with this at the local library story time (they set up games and other activities at various tables). I got to try it out with each of the kids individually, just letting them pick two cards over and over. I made a small board of 7 or so pairs. Dylan got the hang of it pretty quickly. Whitney did okay, but definitely went through phases where she’d pick the same two cards repeatedly. We cheered with matches which helped motivate (of course) and I liked the practice of saying the words of the cards she turned over even if they weren’t matches. I definitely want to try this game more – – for the speech expression, and for the spatial memory. I’ve thought about trying to make my own set with my own pictures. I have read (and found true in our experience) that kids with Down Syndrome can be socially motivated to learn – i.e. learning the alphabet by recognizing letters that go with friend’s names. I’d like to try memory with pictures of Whitney’s friends and family.
Legos: there are so many options here…we’ve already started sorting by color, and of course free building all sorts of creations. I see how Legos can be a good tool for pattern copying (stacking blue then green, then blue then green, etc.) or for building simple shapes or structures and having them problem solve to figure out how to copy (a bit more advanced then where my kids are at now, though).
When it comes to intentional teaching, Tyler is good at working regularly with Whitney…every time he puts her down for a nap they count to 10 (or sometimes 20!) and back down, she spells her name, they sing do-re-mi scales up and down, and then they read. Sometimes he”ll use a simple book and point to each word and have her repeat it (good practice listening to what it sounds like and working on speech clarity…and putting in some early experience with “reading”, although it’s not clear how much she pays attention to the written letters). And then he reads a classic novel (i.e. Heidi) and she falls asleep a few paragraphs in. Tyler also plays games with the kids…they have made up all sorts of active games with different names and rules. Whitney loves playing any of the games and they have definitely motivated more speech as she asks for her turn and yells out queues in the game to get Tyler to react.
So. I’m glad we’ll be back in the groove of preschool soon (just wait for the “first day of school pics” – doesn’t it seem like forever ago when everyone else’s were filling up your Facebook feed?). I’m also glad to realize that our normal life is often fairly enriching without me even trying really hard. I always love a little dose of mommy grace – realizing that while I can imagine plenty of ways things can be more “perfect”, we’re doing just fine right now.
Please feel free to share any toys or games you have noticed to help your littles learn and grow.