At the end of the summer, I was talking to Josie's speech therapist about how torn I was over whether or not to continue private therapy when school started. While I've always been a huge proponent of therapy, I couldn't imagine Josie adjusting to the transition of being in school all day and then having the energy to participate in PT/OT/Speech afterward. And even IF we could land one of those coveted 4pm time slots, I'd be shocked if Josie managed to stay awake on the drive to the therapy center.
Her speech therapist told me to try the school-only route. She said I'd be shocked at how many natural opportunities there are to practice speech and fine and gross motor skills throughout the school day. She said I may even see more gains while Josie was at school vs. home for the summer and if not, I could always enroll her in supplemental therapy later.
Boy was she correct! Honestly, I've been blown away by the progress Josie has made since starting kindergarten. Here I thought that we were giving Josie so many opportunities to learn and practice skills throughout the day at home.
In addition to her private therapies, we've always utilized our state respite services to have college girls come to the house and reinforce the concepts Josie is working on in therapy with her. It's like having tutoring sessions for several hours a week. So I thought we were doing as much as possible to provide Josie with an academically-mindful, developmentally rich environment.
Over the summer, I blogged about some of the ways we were preparing Josie for kindergarten. There was a huge emphasis on writing/drawing because that was an area that was a big weakness for Josie and it was something that would be a large part of the kindergarten day (to read it, click HERE). So imagine my surprise when she went from being an absolute pistol during our home handwriting practice sessions to her teacher emailing me this:
The phonemic awareness? The handwriting?! Did you see the handwriting?!?! The improvement that we've seen in the few short months since she started school is absolutely phenomenal. I posted another one of Josie's assignments to Instagram and I got asked for tips so here are a couple of strategies that we've employed at home and at school:
1. Free Tracing Font - I discovered this tracing font that can be downloaded quickly and easily, and best of all - it's free! It's from www.dafont.com and it's called "KG Primary Dots." To download it, click HERE. But keep in mind...The main benefit of this font is that you can customize the lesson to your child's interests. Josie is really into Mickey Mouse these days. She'd much rather complete this worksheet than a generic one that you might find in a kindergarten workbook.
The font is also helpful in teaching a child to write his or her name. If you don't want to mess with downloading the font, check out this website where you can type in the child's name and simply print a tracing page: CLICK HERE.
2. Wikki Stix - This tip came from Josie's kindergarten teacher. She uses Wikki Stix to guide Josie's handwriting. Wikki stixs are wax sticks that can be molded into shapes. The teacher just places a stick on the line that Josie is writing on to create a tangible barrier to prevent her from sloppily writing all over the page. You can buy them at all sorts of places. This kit from Amazon looks cool because it has guide cards so kids can form letters out of the sticks. But shop around - the prices of these things vary so much!
That's it for the academic portion of our "Josie Goes to Kindergarten" update. Stay tuned for the social portion. It's a post I've been meaning to write for some time.