Yesterday I had the end-of-year IEP review at the Princess’s school. Although I’m encouraged and pleased to hear about the Princess’s progress and growth over the year, all I kept thinking about was how much more work that still lies ahead.
I don’t know if it’s common for children with severe food allergies to have some form of learning or development delay, but I recently read about about another child with the same food allergies and development/learning issues as the Princess. She has speech development delay, language processing issues, and some reading comprehension challenges, which requires her to get additional support from school. However, she is able to keep up with her classmates and has some standout skills/traits as well. She’s a strong word reader and an excellent decoder of visual/nonverbal cues, and her handwriting and drawing skills are very impressive. And boy, what a memory she has!
I’ve decided that just because it’s summer break, doesn’t mean that the learning stops. In fact, it’s going to be taken up a notch, as I’ll work to prepare her for second grade by introducing her to some of the subjects that she’ll be learning, as well as continuing to help her with writing, reasoning, and reading comprehension.
Although I don’t have a background in education or child development, I do have have some ideas based on incentives that worked with me when I was younger (money), as well as what seems to work for the Princess (money, dairy-free chocolate, and “special prizes”).
So here’s my plan:
Book Reports. Although I wasn’t a fan of doing them when I was in school, I realize the value in doing them. I will take the drudge out of it by making it into a game/fun activity—perhaps the Princess and I will play news reporter/talk show host as we interview each other. She can be a newspaper reporter/book reviewer by writing about what we discuss and perhaps even come up with pictures of her favorite stories which she might like to retell to someone younger. Or perhaps we’ll reenact the story or her favorite scenes or maybe come up with alternative endings?
Goal: read a book each day, and a book report each week on a favorite book. Prize: For each book report, she will earn $5.
Tiny Topics. For school during April and a good chunk of May, the Princess had to write about something each day in a tiny memo book. I’m going to have her continue it, but this time, I’ll give her a list of questions that she can choose from. Her resource teacher suggested that at the end of the week to have her expand upon one of her topics into a mini essay. I freaked out a little when I heard the word “essay,” especially for a second grader, but I guess it’s never too early to start building on ideas and organizing them into a complete thought.
Goal: write in Tiny Topic notebook each day; work on possible essay topics/drafts. Prize: For each completed essay, a special prize from Daddy or Grandma.
Play Games/Make Believe. There’s nothing like the head fake—learning something unintentionally while having fun. To help keep her math skills up, we’ll play General Store, Casino (probably just Black Jack), or Bank. She likes to play School, so perhaps I’ll have her teach me something that she knows or something she wants to learn more about. We can expand this into TV Talk Show/News Report, in which we can put on a information program for the grandparents or cousins.
She also likes to cook and pretend to be a scientist, so I can look into some easy recipes and science projects that we can work on together to better understand a concept—whether it’s about chemical reactions, changes in states of matter, or how to double or half a recipe.
When we’re driving or walking, perhaps we’ll play “I Spy” and come up with descriptions for what we’re seeing or thinking about and have other the person guess based on the clues.
She doesn’t want to take piano lessons, but I think I can get her to learn elements of music and rhythm through playing Wii’s RockBand and Music. The other day I actually got her to sit next to me and learn a little bit of Bach’s Minuet in G. She likes the song because she’s familiar with it from Baby Einstein, and she associates it with ballet. I’ll try to teach her other melodies that she seems to enjoy singing/humming, and perhaps we’ll come up with a dance routine, too.
Goal: play a learning game each day. Prize—spending time with Mommy.
The Princess is going to have a very busy summer: Summer camp from 9 to 3, tae kwon do twice a week, Korean dance and drumming, and speech. We’ll play things by ear and make necessary adjustments depending on her energy level. And mine. 🙂