Originally Sent: 3/14/2013
March 14, 2013
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Secrets from a Preschool Teacher
By Krisa Winn
Very often, I talk to families who have children about to transition from an early intervention program involving home visits by therapists, to a preschool program. Usually, this happens at age three. They call because they suddenly feel uncomfortable with the choices presented to them by the public school. I’ve spoken to families whose closest facility is nearly an hour from their home. Definitely not ideal for a little one, especially one who has special needs. For other families, the program is conveniently located, but feels a little ‘too close for comfort’ in many other ways. These families want the best for their child, but they feel the draw to keep them at home. They’re weighing this desire with the information that they’ve been given about the importance of early intervention. “Is it possible for us to provide the early intervention program that our child needs,” they ask, “can we do it?” Parents can provide a wonderful early intervention program at home and in this newsletter I will offer suggestions for doing so.
To say that the first five years of a child’s life are critically important is a huge understatement. Pathways in the brain, foundational to all later learning, are being formed. Growth in every area of life is rapidly occurring. I like what Jan Bedell of Little Giant Steps (www.littlegiantsteps.com) has to say, “When the brain is stimulated, dendrite connections are made. Stimulation= connection=function.” Having been an Early Intervention Preschool teacher myself, I thought I’d share some ‘secrets’ that can help you make the most of those critical development years if you decide to home school your toddler with special needs.
First of all, if your child was receiving speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. we encourage you to make plans for those services to continue. See our Struggling Learner website for more on this subject.
Next, in the following paragraphs, I’ll be offering many suggestions for activities to offer your child. Please don’t think that all of these opportunities need to happen everyday. That would be fabulous, but it’s quite unrealistic. Really, the ‘name of the game’ is intentionality. You’ve been homeschooling since your child’s first breath. Now, you just need to be a little more intentional about how you interact with your little one. Notice that there’s no real suggestion to make sure the alphabet and sounds are mastered. That is not the goal, although it may occur. Instead focus on building a foundation, making connections, and having fun! You can provide a wonderful early intervention program at home! Here’s how:
Provide Opportunities for Social and Pretend Play
Provide Opportunities for Exploration
Provide Opportunities for Child Initiated/Creative Art
Provide Opportunities for Music and Movement
Provide Opportunities for Gross Motor Play
Provide Opportunities to Move
Provide Opportunities to Explore Nature
Provide Opportunities to Enjoy and Engage in Rich Vocabulary
Provide Access to Books
Provide Opportunities for Field Trips
Provide Opportunities for Lots of Picture Taking (by You)
I hope that, after reading through these suggestions, you feel equipped and encouraged to home school your special needs child through the early years. Be intentional, but don’t make it too complicated. Learning opportunities are everywhere!
Homeschooling Children with Special Needs—Sharon Hensley
“Neurodevelopment” webinar by Jan Bedell www.littlegiantsteps.com
The Right Stuff for Children Birth to 8–Selecting Play Materials to Support Development—Martha B. Bronson
The New Language of Toys, available www.woodbinehouse.com
More early childhood resources are available at the HSLDA Bookstore.
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