It’s hard to believe that school has been in session almost four months! By now, teachers are fully into presenting the curriculum, and children with special needs are often pushing hard to “keep up”. During the break, they are at risk for regression, because many of their skills are not yet firmly “nailed down” or automatic. Parents can help by continuing to use the white board and practicing the most important skills that are in their child’s IEP.
How best to do this, when there is so much else going on? The holiday break can be a very hectic time, with lots of visits, events, and emotions in the mix. Make a schedule by marking your calendar or putting dates on the white board, if possible every other day. Tell your child that it’s important to practice their goal skills, even during vacation. This should be “quiet time”, with you either helping them or sitting with them while they practice. Here are some suggestions:
- Limit the time—15-30 minutes is plenty. Try for first thing in the morning, when everyone is calmer and has better attention.
- For a child practicing reading sounds (phonics) or words, or math facts, use the flashcards from school (or the ones you use at home).
- Try to find some holiday-themed books at your child’s level. Have your child read aloud to you.
- Use technology to practice- school websites often have suggested programs for math, reading, typing, etc. that you may not have time to use during school weeks.
- If your child received a game that can help with improving certain skills, offer to play with him.
- Older children may have a long-term assignment to do. Help them make a schedule for completion, see if there are parts you can help with, and keep your child company while he/she works.
- Drawing pictures, solving mazes or dot-to-dots, tracing letters, or doing simple craft projects can help strengthen fine motor skills.
- Use thank-you notes or New Year’s cards to practice writing and drawing skills.
- Make index cards with vocabulary words, speech sounds, opposites, or other concepts that your child may be working on in speech therapy. Play a match game by turning over cards and trying to find a pair (and do the appropriate exercise). Let your child respond to your pairs, too, so he/she wins each time.
- If your child needs to build up “reading muscles”, sit with her and read something yourself (even a magazine!)
- Walks are good exercise and offer a chance to practice both physical skills and conversational ones.
Have fun! Keep track of your child’s practice times. Let them know you are proud of them for working on their IEP goals. Send them back ready to continue learning, without any loss of skills.
As always, I welcome your questions and thoughts. I hope your holidays are a welcome break and a chance for some quality time with your children. Please visit my website, www.susanbrefach.com, for previous blogs and information about helping your child to succeed.