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Preschool Update #2 - October

Posted Oct 12 2009 10:02pm
Bridget's first preschool experience is shaping up to be very much like what I remember the other kids doing in preschool--with a few modifications.

Bridget sits in a cube chair during circle time (which gives her support and boundaries), which I don't remember seeing in other preschool classrooms. There are about five cube chairs in Bridget's classroom and they all get used :). She also has supportive chairs available for when she does artwork or fine motor work like drawing. That way, she doesn't have to work on balance or core strength when she is practicing fine motor skills and can put her efforts into using her hands and arms more effectively.

There is a wider variety of writing utensils offered in Bridget's classroom than I've seen in a typical classroom, so each child can find one that works best. There also seem to be a wider variety of manipulatives and sensory objects. There are more (trained) adults in the room on a regular basis than there are in most preschool classes. Otherwise, it seems very similar to any other preschool classroom.

From weekly newsletters (and from the crafts that ha ve come home in Bridget's backpack, like the duck with "feathers" shown to the right), the main themes so far have been very typical: friendship, farm animals, apples, the letters of the alphabet, and pumpkins. Her class is taking a field trip to the pumpkin patch this week (I will try to post pictures).

I get an informal written report from Bridget's therapists on a weekly basis. So far, they are saying that Bridget is "following directions and transitioning well between activities". She is also "talkative and engaged" and "eager to participate".

One of the goals on her IEP is to increase the length of time she spends on "non-preferred" activities (i.e., things she doesn't want to do), so each of her therapists is encouraging her to "stay with" tasks rather than quickly moving from task to task. Good luck with that :)! Miss Bridget has a mind of her own and doesn't want to do things she, well, doesn't want to do. Not a surprise, there.

Her IEP, for the most part, is filled with things that Bridget has shown an interest in doing, or skills we believe are "functional skills" well within her reach which would be important to her participation in the classroom. Our goal was for most--if not all--of the items on her IEP to be things which would help her to be happier, healthier, or more independent (not just check marks on a standard development chart).

A few of the ite ms on Bridget's IEP: learning classroom routines (with the help of visual supports and cues, such as picture cards and a visual clock), refining grasping skills necessary for writing down the road, saying her name, increasing the clarity of her speech (and increasing her spoken vocabulary), and encouraging large motor progress so she is able to better access and take full advantage of all that is offered on the playground and in the classroom.

Bridget's day is filled with all the typical things you usually find at preschool: reading, singing, pretend play, large motor play, arts and crafts, snack, etc. Here's a quick rundown of what her therapists are working on additionally:

OT - Bridget loves music, so her OT is incorporating songs and finger plays into their time together to help isolated finger movements and bilateral skills (a preparation for other fine motor work). She is also working with lacing shapes, puzzles, tongs, handwriting--lines and curves & imitating strokes (in preparation for writing the "B" in her name), and playing with pegs in therapy putty.

PT - Bridget's PT took a job with the local school system over the summer, so she basically moved with us from EI to preschool. The continuity has been awesome. She is working with Bridget on balance and core control (trampoline, swing, stepping on and off a mat, going up and down a ramp, standing on a beam, and going over obstacles & up and down stairs). They have also been working toward running ("fast feet"--which is hilarious to watch) and jumping.

Speech - Our SLP is working on consonant-vowel combinations with Bridget in an effort to help her enunciate sounds and words. She is also helping Bridget say the names of classmates and encouraging her to use two (or more) word requests and phrases ("Where Katie?" or "More tea.") As with the other therapies, they do most of their "work" through play, including reading and pointing to objects in Bridget's favorite books, singing her favorite songs, and sharpening speech skills through pretending (tea parties and pretending to talk on the phone, among other things).

Bridget loves the one-on-one attention from her teachers and therapists when she gets it. "Therapy" is often "playing" in small groups with classmates (typical peer models), so she is never out of the loop for long.

I am happy to answer any further questions for parents with preschool in the near future. Leave a comment here so others can read the questions and responses :).
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