Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lesson 8

Yesterday, we went to a Winter Playdate at John Eager Howard Elementary School. We were invited by Miss Brenda, who is Elinore's special instructor. The party was held in the rec room and was very well done. The room was organized into centers, supervised by teachers from the tot program. Elinore did not spend much time at Miss Brenda's station which had color sorting, and cardboard blocks. Clockwise around the room, the next station was a floor piano; a bubble station with handouts, bubbles, and bubble wrap; gross motor area with a ball pit, mini-tramp, and a slide; decorate a picture frame station; painting and dot stamping; face painting; and a make and take station for the parents. The make and take included a Wheels on the Bus laminated picture with the different parts of the song on small velcro-ed cards to make the song more interactive. A second project was making a small color wheel with matching clothespins. We even had a catered lunch. Cate engaged Elinore in quite a few activities, though Elinore's main focus was the gross motor area.

Sadly, I have not many pictures, but as I told Jeff, I can keep track of a camera or Elinore, and Elinore is more important.

The women who worked for the program were amazing. They all focused on the children, were polite, respectful, engaged them in activities while still respecting the choice of the child. I am impressed!

I was also impressed, albeit in a negaive way, by something I saw at the actual school. Some of the folding chairs had states and capitals, I guess as a study aid. I thought that was great. Until I saw the capital of Louisiana was Banton Rouge. And that brought home to me, again, the deplorable state of Baltimore City Public Schools, and why I homeschool. At my most generous, I allowed that it could have been done by a parent volunteer, but somone should have noticed. And fixed it. There were only a few chairs labled, obviously left over from another time, which to me indicates there was time for someone to notice, a teacher, the principal, another parent, someone. Sad. Also, a rat or mouse in the hallway.

Special instruction today featured things that go. Miss Brenda used a book written in verse that had an actual storyline, and illustrations that attached to the book with velcro. Awesome. Then Elinore played Bingo with the vehicles, and extended patterns on the iPad.

Elinore completed lesson 8 in Calvert Pre-school. It is flowing along at a perfect pace, average of three days a week, just like I hoped. Each lesson begins with Opening. Our Opening starts with:

Prayer and
a Bible story. Today we finished story number 60 in Bible Stories to Read, by Rod and Staff publishers. It has a companion coloring book that we haven't used yet, because Elinore is not that interested in coloring. Maybe next go-round she'll like it. Tomorrow we start The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes.
Starfall calendar for month, year, days of the week
Flag salute, the one introduced by Calvert (Red, white, and blue, I love you)
Song, such as Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, etc.
News time, same as show-and-tell
and Thought For the Day, such as Be kind, Be thoughtful
Lesson 3 started teaching left and right, so for now, opening also includes putting a sticker on her right hand, which she promptly moves to her left.

Our discussion time was spent on seasons, focusing on spring. Number readiness presented the concepts of opened and closed. That was a lot of fun with eyes, mouth, door, gate, refrigerator, boxes and arms opening and closing. Story time covered Little Boy Blue which we dramatized, and Little Bo Peep. It was hard to convince her to color with crayons for Things to Do, but we will try again on another day.

Monday's occupational therapy went well as usual. Elinore is finally engaging in imaginative play. She put the weighted lizards down for a nap and my outside-the-box thinker put the pillows under their tails. She has about mastered buttons, and is getting the hang of zippers. She used color changing markers to write E, and got in a swing with the precious lizards. Miss Jodie and I were talking about all the progress she has made, and when we got to the neighbor's to get Hannah, she promptly stripped down to shirt and diaper. So much for progress. Miss Jodie highly recommends Handwriting Without Tears, so we are looking into that.

I am getting long winded, so I'm skipping off for my Pinterest fix.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lesson 5

Elinore finished her fifth lesson today. She has trouble sitting still, paying attention, and following directions. Oh yes, and answering questions. I wonder if it is worth the effort at this early stage, knowing about the better late than early philosophy.

I also know that children tend to perform to expectations. I have gone very easy on Elinore these three and a half years, because with her speech delay, it's hard to know how much she understands. But her developmental pediatrician is convinced that she's smarter than I give her credit for.

The reason we are soldiering on (doesn't that sound like she's a lot of work?) is that Calvert school is very non-academic for preschool. Today we reviewed red and introduced yellow, and according to our team of experts, this is a three year old skill. She is identifying her learned colors with about 75 % accuracy. To me, this means an appropriate skill.

We played with the Lauri alphabet puzzle, talked about books and read the first story in Read to Me Storybook. This is our third copy: PJ got one in his Kindergarten box, and Hannah got hers in a Pre-K box eight years ago. Reading to children of any age is developmentally appropriate.

We also reviewed yesterday's discussion topic of left/right, name, address, and phone number. Calvert's manual acknowledges that mastery of left/right may take some time. As an impaired left/right adult, I think it's never too soon to start.  Phone numbers are a lot longer than they used to be. And her speech is not clear enough to convey her address in case of being lost. However. We do not plan for her to get lost. But you all know about the best laid plans...

For games and play, we did hunting for a spool, using a bean bag. It is not for lack of spools, we have plenty. I just don't want to share my sewing supplies.

So, in my opinion, there is nothing out of reach of a three and a half year old, at least, not yet. The main thing for Elinore is learning to sit still, follow directions, and answer questions. She has her team of experts (speech therapist, occupational therapist, and special instructor) all helping with these same issues, so I know these are age appropriate skills to acquire as well. So, for now, we'll keep soldiering on.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lesson 2

Elinore did another fabulous job completing lesson 2 of Calvert Pre-K.We did a good job on Opening, although we need a flag for the salute. For News, Elinore didn't do as well as yesterday. Even though I asked questions to elicit conversation, she was pretty quiet. Maybe this had to do with her boo-boo: Penny scratched her.

Discussion was about the color red, which she recognized better than I expected. Number Readiness studied before and after, which I don't think she quite got.

We read Little Red Hen and acted it out. She listened to the story just fine, but she was not interested in acting it out. We made some of the items out of play-dough such as eggs, the cake, logs for heating the oven, and the hen. These covered Stories, Things to Do, and Games.

Elinore used for the calendar portion and played with the letters H, W, C, and G.

I discovered that it's very difficult to take pictures of the action when Elinore needs so much direct intervention. I am really excited that she's doing such a great job, but tomorrow we start left and right.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Elinore started Calvert pre-school today.

She had an appointment with a developmental pediatrician yesterday who said Elinore does not have autism according to the new proposed DSM definitions. She also said Elinore is smarter than I give her credit for.

So, Elinore started Pre-K today.

We introduced the idea of school, already familiar because Hannah does school. We started with Opening. This included prayer, Bible story, salute the flag, and News, also known as Show and Tell. She did a great job! I asked her a few questions about her breakfast, and she was able to tell me about it.

We read Peter Rabbit. We covered in and out for Reading Readiness. She colored a picture of her own choosing, and she drew an E. We played Go In and Out the Windows, accompanied by the song on her CD. She completed the whole day with flying colors. I am so proud!

My goal is currently to complete 3 lessons per week, as she is a little young, only 3 1/2, not 4. Also, she has 2-4 therapies a week. I want to be flexible.