Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tot School--P Week

Isaiah will be 48 months on Saturday!

This week we started back into our alphabet inspired school. However, rather than going straight through the alphabet, we are working through a "letter/sound chart" given to us by Isaiah's speech therapist that shows which sounds usually develop first for little people. It just so happens that the first letter on the chart was P, so that's where we started.

I wasn't as on top of things as I still hope to be, but we're getting there. I didn't have a specific Bible story picked out to work on, but we did read the Bible every day as a family.

We started out the week just right with a playdate with our friend Lydia! No pictures, I'm afraid, just too busy having fun!

I drew and cut out an upper and lower case P for Isaiah to glue onto a piece of construction paper. He hadn't used glue in about 6 months, but he remembered exactly what to do with that bottle!

We then worked with his little markers on his pre-writing skills and hand strengthening by having him open the markers and then draw lines up, down and across as well as circles, trying to make the Ps pink and purple.

And then he tried to tell me he wanted no more of this activity (before he had completed the tasks) by throwing his arms out to the sides whenever I asked him to draw a line. Yeah, he's got his own ideas these days. :)

We played with pink play-doh. I made him a little pot from some of the play-doh so that he could tear pieces from the rest of the play-doh and put the pieces in the pot, but he was only interested in tearing apart the pot, so we just went with that before rolling out long pieces and shaping them into the letter P.

I finally got some pictures printed out for him. This was a big hit! He didn't do as well as I thought he would in naming the pictures at first. (I had tried to choose things that he already knows really well, looking for opportunities for him to succeed right away.) We then adapted to laying out all the pictures. I asked him to give me the picture of "walker" for instance, and he got them 100% correct this way, from a field of 8! We worked with these every day, and he has definitely improved. I hope to add to our stash every week.

Isaiah's pronunciation continues to improve, but his habits change. Originally he was not closing his words well, but now he's not opening them well. For instance, "popcorn" comes out "opcorn", when it used to be "popco". It's strange to me, since I don't understand how all that works. He's improved greatly on closing his words, which has definitely helped with understanding him. Any suggestions in this area are greatly appreciated!

Thomas also downloaded and printed lots of pictures of cars for Isaiah to look through--another big hit with Little Man! We use them for colors right now, but I have plans for grouping and other things as his color identification gets better.

We also enjoyed exploring the letter P in the kitchen with pancakes, peanuts and pizza!

Check out all the other Tot Schools for great ideas of fun things to do with your little ones at 1+1+1=1!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tot School--Back in Russia!

Isaiah is 47 months old

We are getting back into the swing of things in many areas as we have returned to Russia! While in the States official Tot School took a bit of a back seat while we were able to get Isaiah some intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy.

So now I'm trying to get us into a schedule that will help me stay accountable and productive as Isaiah grows and learns each day! My desire is to continue the work that we began in therapy as well as incorporate much of what we had been doing in Tot School before we had our 5-month stint in the States.

Here's a little bit of what we did this week:

We actually made it to the park with his new wheels! Something I'm hoping to do more of when it gets just a tad bit warmer, like above 0 F.

Working on hand strengthening for writing, we used puzzles, lacing beads, legos and play-doh. Isaiah's hand coordination is developing slowly but nicely. Thanks to some lacing beads that look like cars, he actually seemed to enjoy this activity that he often resisted in occupational therapy!

We worked on drawing horizontal and vertical lines and circles. Just opening the markers is a skill to develop hand strength. These were fairly new and not all of them have been used yet, so they were a little tricky.

A puzzle with trucks helped keep his attention.

We used legos to work on color recognition/identification and hand strengthening. First I held out 2 different colored legos, asking him to take a specific color. If he went for the wrong color, I prompted him to try again. He got 2 out of 4 correct. He does really well with green and blue, and red is finally starting to come into the picture! Then he worked on stacking them, harder than you think when you have to match up those little pegs. With a little assistance on alignment, he did a great job.

Isaiah seems to have ups and downs with self-feeding, which can give Mama some ups and downs, too! This week he was doing much better with the spoon, a definite up for both of us!

Next week we'll start with working on specific letter-themed activities again to help give us focus and to develop some of the skills Isaiah began working on in speech therapy. But this week we did general activities like watching LeapFrog's Letter Factory. I got so excited as Isaiah actually began repeating the sounds with the characters! He's never done that before.

He's getting much better at repeating letters as we practice his alphabet. He also will count 1, 2 on his own, and then I help him up to 10.

On Tuesday we had a special treat. It's been bitterly cold here, so rather than meeting a friend in a favorite park or something, we took the free bus out to IKEA! We had a great time catching up with Oksana and Slava! There are always tons of toys to play with at IKEA, which also provided time for me to visit with my friend!

Every day we review Isaiah's children's catechism. He has the first two questions down cold! With a little prompting he is getting the third one really well, too. After breakfast we read the Bible together, and we are working on teaching Isaiah how to pray. I love hearing him talk to God!

And our big news is how well Isaiah is doing in our "PE program". Thanks to the diligent work of his therapist and the man who made his new braces and the man who ordered his equipment, Isaiah is making strides in walking! I just had to post a video of this. His walker is about 14 pounds, more than half his weight (finally 23 pounds!). He is finally getting the hang of turning it on his own, which involves lifting it a little bit. Little Man is STRONG!

Be sure to check out the other Tot Schools at 1+1+1=1! It's good to be back!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Starting Over?

Since I am finally starting to feel better, even without medication, I really want to get started in Tot School activities with Isaiah. I'm a girl who loves routines and really gets so much more accomplished when I have a routine. For the past several months my routine was get up, get sick, take Isaiah to therapy, try to survive the day.

Now we're back in Russia, and my routine has been adjust to jet lag, get up, get sick, try to survive the day and have some meaningful interaction with Little Man.

I'm ready for more! However, I'm having a really hard time finding a starting point in providing structure for both of us. I would appreciate any suggestions!

There are certain elements that I know need to be included every day, but I currently begin to feel overwhelmed when I try to think about fitting them all in! Here's the short list:

~Bible Reading
~Physical Therapy (walking, arm strengthening exercises)
~Occupational Therapy (I want to focus on hand coordination for now, thinking ahead to writing)
~Speech Therapy (increasing vocabulary)

And then the more "school" type activities can often be fit into the therapy categories, such as learning colors and numbers and letters.

And here are the other things I'm hoping to fit in every day:
~Grocery shopping, at least every other day so Thomas doesn't have to do it all. This will involve at least 2 hours of the day.
~Outside time for at least 1 hour. It takes us about 25 minutes to gear up for going outside, so I'd like to be there for a while.
~Rest time
~Reading time, books other than Bible Reading time
~Independent play

Am I asking too much? Perhaps I am, but I would appreciate the insight of others! I think that part of my struggle, too, is simply remembering that Isaiah learns differently than other kids. During our time in the States we became increasingly aware that while Isaiah learns well and continues to progress, there are definitely some delays. I have to constantly find that balance of pushing him, but not looking for things that aren't going to happen on a "normal" schedule. I want to make learning fun for him, just like every parent, I think. I want to learn him well, so that I can help him in the best way possible.