Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reading Questions - Frequency & Understanding

Here are some more questions from a reader:
As you have been using the brillkids software too, and have a child with additional needs, I just thought you would be the perfect one to ask!!

I guess my main questions are: 

-Do I need to repeat things more often than with another child? (A 'normal' child would likely have learned a lot of words from all we have shown, but I don't think that's the case. I actually did go half way into the curriculum on LR, and then started again from scratch because I was worried she just hadn't gained anything from it :S, and I'm sure we are doing it often enough in a day either!)
I'm not going to be much help on this question because I'm really not sure if you need to repeat things more often or not.  In the beginning I did because I had the same concerns but as my daughter started to show me that she understood the words, I was able to figure out how quickly she learned & I followed a pretty typical schedule with her. From reading that I have done mainly on the BrillKids Forums, it seems like K has learned to read in a very similar manner compared to typical toddlers. We rarely do flashcards now except on little reader & even that is almost always longer sentences but at the end K was able to learn over 65 words every 3 days.  I got to the point that I had trouble finding word lists as well as time to make that many flashcards especially because I was changing each set twice a week. My biggest caution is not to bore your daughter.  If she starts to seem less interested, try cards more quickly & changing them more often. You are better to show them a little too quickly & have her miss a few of the words than to bore her & have her refuse to learn new words. 
We often do Little Reader 2 or 3 times a day, five times a week. Although now that K has figured out how to use the computer by herself she often watches it even more.

-How did you develop your child's understanding? Her understanding of the world, what she was reading, etc?  
I think the most important thing that we did to help with understanding was to always show a picture with each word & to explain when necessary. Another thing that probably helped was to try to relate things we were reading to everyday life.  For example, if we went swimming, I would read a story about swimming.  We made books for K to read about real life situations such as family holidays, a book on our farm animals, a book about preschool, etc.

Did you do games with her to emphasize the meaning of the words, or to see if she understood them/could read them (before she was verbal)?

Not really.  We mainly just made sure she received lots of input & never asked her for output or did any sort of testing until she was reading well.  At times it was hard to patiently wait for K to show us that she was learning, but in the end I am glad we didn't push her or test in any way.  She truly loves reading now. It was a huge leap of faith in the beginning but it paid off in the end.

-What did you find was the most practical/successful way of teaching your daughter? You mention that you printed all the flashcards from LR. Did you do a few categories a day, pulling out an old card and putting in a new one, every day? Did you still use the computer in the same time? 


I think that the most important thing is to find a method that is easy for you to implement & be consistent with.  I found it too hard to keep track of all the words to add & retire so I just used a new set of words for 5 days at a time, took a couple of days off & then started a fresh set of cards for the next week. As K showed me she could learn very quickly, I shortened up the time until she was learning a new set about every 3 days. At this time I used the computer more sporadically & mainly just for fun.  K didn't seem to learn as well from the computer in the beginning so it is only since she turned 4.5 or so that we finally switched to Little Reader only.

Just remember to start slow & add new things gradually so it is not overwhelming. 
 Sorry if these are too many questions! I'm desperately looking for the info, and you seemed like the ideal experienced mother/teacher to ask! 

I know you must be very busy too, so please don't feel like you need to answer all of these. I would be grateful for whatever piece of advice you would have :) 

Have you ever looked into neurodevelopmental programs?  I think one of the reasons that my daughter was able to learn so well is because of her program. It has helped organize her brain so that she learns more easily.

If you want to learn more, I have a neurodevelopment  (ND)category on the right hand side of my blog.  There are a number of blogs posts where I talk about ND.

You can also check out Down syndrome:  a day to day guide which is another blog that has a post entitled How to Find a Neurodevelopmentalist. This blog has tons of other great info too.  Some is specific to Down syndrome but lots of it is more general & you may find it very helpful.

You may also find this forum helpful too. If you use the search bar that is 1/2 way down on the right side of the page you will find lots of posts on early reading & lots of other subjects.

I hope this is helpful.  Please feel free to ask any questions you like & good luck teaching your little girl :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Batter Up, Up, Up, & Away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today was one of those days when I know we have made (mostly) the right choices for K.  Her neurodevelopmental program, supplements as well as the stimulation of a busy family are helping K to reach her full potential.

K started T-ball today.

Her aim was pretty good in batting practice.

Catching was probably the hardest the hardest skill for her.  She caught some of the balls, although with a group of 3 & 4 year olds, you can imagine how many balls hit the ground & flew in all directions!

They had a running base practice & she did well at that too, tagging every base as she went by & remembering which was 1st, 2nd, 3rd & home & stopping on whichever base she was told to.

The only point in the whole entire practice that I think someone may have picked her out of the group was when she & 2 other little girls ran across the length of 2 ball diamonds & she was about 20 feet behind by the time the arrived at the other side of the field.

The things that stood out in my mind though?  My once shy little girl never once needed her mom & didn't even look for me. In a whole new group of people, K was so confidant & self assured out there!   She went with the group to every station to practice each new skill.  She listened to the instructions so well & never got distracted even once.  If I didn't know better, I would never have guessed this was her first practice.

All of the hard work that K & our family has done for the last few years is paying off & I was so proud as I watched my independent little girl tonight!

................&  in case you are curious, no, I did not mention on the sign up forms that she has trisomy 21.  It is likely that some of the organizers knew because we live in such a small community, but I didn't feel it was relevant & the sign up sheet only asked about medical things & she does not have any medical concerns that would affect her playing T-ball. I am sure that at least one of the coaches had no idea & the one that did has known her since she was born.

Tonight, I am going to bed content.  Yes, we still have work to do, but today was another wonderful reminder that we are on the right path.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Shhhhhhhhh,............Don't Tell My Husband!!!!

..........................but I hit the jackpot!

Last weekend, a friend & I took our 8 & 9 year old daughters to a rummage sale in a community about an hour away.  It is a massive rummage sale & because it supports a wide variety of community organizations & activities, the support & therefore the donations, are amazing! 

It has always been tough to keep ahead of K when it comes to her reading.  When she was younger, it was tough to keep enough high quality, laminated flashcards prepared & on hand for her voracious reading appetite.  It is actually easier now that she is reading books, but there is no way that I can afford to pay for that many new books, so I often check out the children's book section at rummage sales or local 2nd hand or thrift stores.  I usually pay between 25 cents & $1.00.

Naturally, I planned on checking out the book section & was pleased to find that kids book were only 5 cents each! There were thousands to choose from!


It's time for the confession part of this post..............I bought over 100 books - probably closer to 120.  My 9 year old picked out about a dozen & I found about 8 for my older kids, but they tend to be much fussier in what they choose, so approximately 100 are for K.

These are part of a a set of 10 phonics books.  I bought a couple of sets like this.

Most of the books are leveled readers like those pictured above. K usually reads a couple of these stories before bed most nights, so these will keep us going for a while.

This is a picture of the rest of the books.  There are a number that K will read herself, but lots of stories for our family to read to her at bedtime.

Now to justify my purchase in case my husband happens to read you honey!

1.  On average, K reads 3 or 4 book out loud to me each day.   This is on top of the books she reads to herself.  Her neurodevelopmental program has a goal of 4 new books per day, so we need a constant supple of books all the time.  The library is just far enough away that we don't get there regularly so it ends up costing us more in late fees than it does to buy inexpensive books.

2. I have gotten rid of about 3 boxes of books lately, which is more than I bought, so if you happen to be reading this honey, please keep that in should be so proud that I was able to part with so many books!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's day!  Mine started out with a Mother's day breakfast in town with pancakes, eggs, ham, sausages, & fruit - delicious!

My 2nd oldest, T, had a baseball game in a nearby town. We enrolled all 4 girls in ball for the first time this year and this was her first game ever.  She did great.  Made it on base most of the time, stole lots of bases & also enjoyed the first win of her ball career.

After that it was home for a BBQ supper prepared by my husband.  

It was a fun day & I was showered with gifts & cards. 

This is the birdhouse K made me for Mother's day on Dad's night at preschool.

..............and the last little gift of the night was reading me this story before she went to bed. 

.................& all the hugs that go along with reading a story like this!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Quick Trip to the Zoo

K had a neurodevelopmental evaluation yesterday, and because it is such a long drive, we spent the night before in  hotel and had a mini holiday.  We had a couple of hours to spare before her appointment, so we decided to check out the local zoo.  K loved it and has been telling the whole family about all of the different animals that we saw. It was neat that she was able to read many of the signs. Because we try to talk about  different country every week, she was also able to understand and talk about which continents or countries the animals would live on in the wild.

I know, this isn't a real animal, but K was fascinated by it none the less.  

She inspected his mouth & teeth a lot!

We checked out the real bears too. K's one request was to see the bears so we were excited to arrive right at feeding & see them being more active as they searched for and ate their carrots and apples.  They swam right into their pond to retrieve some fish that they had been fed.



This guy drew quite a crowd with his intimidating look.


This little guy was so cute that K wanted to get as close as she could!

While K had requested the bears, the camel seemed to hold her attention best.  It was great that he was right up against the fence so that she could see him really well.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Encyclopedic Knowledge

 We have been doing Doman style "bit cards", also called bits of intelligence, or encyclopedic knowledge on & off since K was a baby.  It's never actually been on her neurodevelopmental program, but we did do it infrequently as part of her home program for the first few years, & she really enjoys it, so we have continued on, although never on a regular basis.

Doman bits of intelligence are very large, 11 inch X 11 inch cards with a picture on one side & a series of 10 facts one the other.  Of course, you can vary your size, number of facts, etc, when doing home made bits.

With a baby, you would start by just naming each cards, then, after showing a certain number of cards, you would start reading one fact at a time from the back of the cards.  I like to show bit cards as often as I show flashcards.  

First, buy a copy of How to Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, or check it out at your local library.

Or, this book, How to Multiply Your Baby`s Intelligence will be great too, & includes a section on bits along with chapters on reading, math, etc.

Bits are available directly from IAHP, & I do have a few of these,but shipping to Canada is not cheap - perhaps because they are an odd size? Whatever the reason, it made the final cost pretty high.

When creating home made bits, I have used several sources. 

I haven't tried these myself, but the above picture is of blank 11X 11 bit cards that are available from IAHP. 

I found these 11 by 14 cards at the local dollar store.  They could easily be trimmed to 11 by 11 - they were 10 for $1.00 -  by what a deal!

 Ideally, you would cut the picture to make it very clear & concise that you are talking about the kangaroo.  K is old enough that I don't think it matters, but with a very young baby,  I would cut it out & mount it on a card so it was very obvious.

Calendars - If I can get the calendar inexpensively enough,  this is a wonderful way to make bit cards.  calendars often have wonderful, clear pictures.  & come in a huge variety of subjects, making them great for bit cards.

I often will just use 8.5 X 11 card stock to make bits.  I find a clear, high quality image, either one that I take myself, or use google images, print it out, type out the facts to put on the back, & laminate them together.

The other source that I stumbled upon the other day, is the above pictured poster.  It is part of the book pictured below & has 30 posters. It only cost $7.99.  The pictures aren't all exactly what I would pick & there are some repeats so I won't be able to use them all, but for the price that I paid, they are well worth the investment. I will just add my ten facts about the horse breed on the back, & will be all set to go.  Sorry for the sideways picture.....

I have heard of buying old encyclopedias or other similar books with large pictures, cutting out the pictures & gluing the picture on one side of a 11 X 11 card & using those for bits.  I haven't done this myself.  I just can't seem to bring myself to cut up the books.  I actually bought a set at the rummage sale a few months back, just for this purpose, but I don't like the idea of cutting them up.  When I looked at them again the other day, I realized that they are actually pretty good books, with a large picture on one side of the page & some facts on the other, so I think I'll leave the book intact & just read the facts & show the pic the same way I would if I were doing bits.

 I usually include 10 clear concise facts on the back of each bit card. I've found that I have to keep them short.  Even now at 4.5 years, K sometimes gets bored if the facts aren't pretty short.

When searching for facts for animal bit cards, I have found this site pretty helpful:    A - Z Animals
 I'm sure there are lots of good ones, so let me know in the comments if you know of any.

You don't have to do any of these activities in any one exact way.  As long as you are giving input, your child will benefit.  Use materials that are available & affordable & have lots of fun doing it!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Great Article on the Benefits of 4 Point Crawling

Edited to fix the link -  Thanks for letting me know Liz:)!

I found this article today & thought I would pass it along.  It has some really good points about the benefits of a 4 point crawl.

Baby Crawling: How Important It Really Is