Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Learning Goals for the Bird

One of the challenges of having a nonverbal child is never being completely sure when certain skills have been mastered.

This is also particularly challenging when it comes to the Bird because in her mind, when a task is completed once, she considers it mastered and is offended if you ask her to show you multiple times.

For example, she does not care for stacking blocks.  And she gets very put out if you continually ask her to stack them.  But it is a common question on so many of her evaluations.  So when I am asked this, my typical answer is, "Yes, she can stack blocks. But will she stack blocks? No."

To her way of thinking, she has shown you that she can do something.  Once should be enough.  Don't keep asking, thank you very much.

As you might imagine, this does not bode really well in a school setting.  The presentation of a skill, followed by practice of said skill, then demonstrating mastery of that skill is pretty much par for the course.

And being the checklist kind of gal that I am, I would really like to know what Lily Bird can and cannot do.  That information would help me and her teacher know what to work on and what we can skip.

So armed with a Kindergarten Readiness Checklist, I am slowly but surely embarking on a mission to find out exactly what Lily knows since she can't just tell me.

And it's pretty much a guarantee that I will offend her with some of the things I am asking her to demonstrate.  It's a risk I'm willing to take.

Why a Kindergarten Readiness Checklist when she is already in kindergarten?

Well, I am searching for gaps - those skills her peers already know and do.  When I find those gaps, I'll prepare multiple practice activities for Lily and we'll do those until I'm sure she has them down.

Luckily, her teacher is totally on board with this idea and will be doing the bulk of the practice activities at school, along with her regular work.  I'll be reinforcing the lessons at home in the evenings and on weekends.  When the teacher feels Lily has mastered a skill, she'll move on to the next one.  I'll have Lily keep practicing the "mastered" skill as well as reinforcing the latest one she is working on at school.  This will hopefully ensure that Lily is not losing old skills as she learns new ones.

First up on the agenda - Name Recognition: First Name.

We'll be doing lots of stuff like matching her name with velcro letters, bottle caps and clothespins.  She'll be spelling her name with all kinds of letters - letter stickers, wooden letters, foam letters, magnetic letters, and letter tiles.  She'll be tracing her name and filling in the letters of her name with dot stickers, paints, torn paper bits, and do-a-dot markers.  She'll be spelling her name with letter beads on pipe cleaners.  She'll type her name on a keyboard.  She'll look at family photos and label herself in the photos with name stickers.

One fun thing I'd like to point out in case you might like to make one yourself - that super cute large photo in the middle of the above picture is a homemade magnetic puzzle.  It was fairly simple to do, even though the directions were written for a PC and I have a Mac.  Here's the link if you're interested:

When we feel like she knows her name and knows that she is Lily, we'll add the last name to the mix.  Then the family names.

Other skills we'll be working on include patterning, sorting, color and number words, upper and lower case alphabet, shape recognition, and following simple pictorial directions, among other things.

One thing I would love to explore with the Bird is typing.  So if any of you know of a simple and effective kids typing program, I'd love to hear about it.

Do you have some goals to help your kids finish the school year with a bang?  Let me know!


  1. I LOVE how you varied the activities to work on the same goal but with lots of different ways of getting there so as not to "offend" The Bird. Little Miss is a lot the same in that she gets annoyed when you ask her to do the same task repeatedly and I really really want to know how this works out for you! Good luck!

    1. Variety is the spice of life, right, Karla? Gotta try and stay one step ahead of these smarty pants kiddos we have! :) I'll keep you posted on our progress.

  2. I know what you speak of when you say Lily gets offended by the request for repeat performances! Toots does the same thing. But what made a difference with him, is that if you ask him to do something he already knows, as long as there are m&ms, or time with a favorite person to play a game after? He's all over that easy way to 'earn' something fun. Hope that works for Lily too! :)

    1. Rewards definitely makes those tasks a little sweeter. Lily's teacher is having some success with a token chart at school.... maybe I should try one at home. Hmmmm....

  3. I do understand her logic in refusing to repeat what she knows! Clever Bird! I also understand and applaud your plan, best of luck with it.

    (thanks for your great comment over on mine.... you totally get it!!)

    xx Jazzy

    1. I can understand her frustration with the repeat performances because I vividly remember doing what I called "busy work" during my own school days. It's just those silly evaluations with all their trials - "Lily will match the letters in her name 7 out of 10 times".... :( Just gotta push through it.

  4. just found my way to your blog this morning from I Can Say Mama. someone once asked me if i had thought of videoing my daughter so that i can show that she does indeed know how to do some things that she was reluctant to do for others. it won't help for the long haul if she forgets that task, but for the short term, this might be a good way to chronicle everything. i'd also love to subscribe by email, if that's possible!

    1. Videoing is a great idea! See, this is why I love blogging - I get so many super ideas from all you lovely people out there.

      And you've brought to my attention that I don't think email subscription is possible BUT I'm going to look into it. It should definitely be an option.

      Thanks for the comment and I look forward to "meeting you" on your blog. :)

  5. Hello,

    My name is Luis. I've just found your blog and I would like to share with you a website with very interesting apps:


    My son is learning a lot with some of them.


    1. Thanks for the information, Luis. Lily loves the iPad so I'll be sure to check it out.


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