Monday, February 15, 2010

practice practice practice

One of my challenges has always been finding time in our daily rhythms for practice work. Regular practice work is important to help with myelination of the skills needed for handwriting and basic math. (The process that firms up the neural connections that go into doing these tasks.) It gives me a time to make sure those schooling "Rs" are being addressed. And it gives the kids a time where they are responsible for their own work, which may be the most valuable use of practice time.

In any case, I've found it difficult to actually fit it into our days. Traditionally, we did this immediately following rest in the afternoons. However, afternoons have always been sort of full of other things, as we like to get out and about and "do the social" with friends and others. And now that J has begun pursuing his passion for dance, and furthering his passion for singing, we always seem to either be at a class or on our way to or from one. Often we are listening to stories on tape for rest in the car on our way out. And since J's classes seem to either end or begin right around dinner time, I can't drop back to doing this before dinner as we have also done in the past.

So finally I decided to just throw it into our morning schooling schedule. This wouldn't have worked even this past fall, the kids just weren't able to do so much "school work" all at once. But maturity is a glorious thing, and my kids are now capable of a fuller morning schedule. So we're doing two morning lesson blocks, each with a practice time built in. After our movement, when we first sit down and recite our poem of the week, I break out the boys' handwriting practice which they do in advance of their story work (or journaling on the first day of the week). After story work, we break for snack. Then we start up again with either the reading of a new chapter/story, or some sort of hands-on work (painting or craft). The boys then transition to creative play for an hour or so, after which they sit back down to work on their math practice (work with cuisenaire rod worksheets, as in the first photo, and math problems as in the second photo) for the half hour or so before lunch.

And it's working beautifully! Even Zoo Boy enjoys his writing practice, supported by the little "alphabet 8s" as seen on his tablet in the previous photo. While working on practice writing, we have him hold an item (in this case a gemstone) in his lower 2 fingers to help him maintain a proper pencil-grip. (This was via advice from his OT, and he actually LIKES having the help to hold his pencil properly, amazingly enough.) I do not have him do this when he is free-writing (in his journal, etc) or for story work, as I want him sinking into his work, not worrying about his pencil-grip at those times. As the proper pencil-grip starts to myelinate, he'll begin using it more in his other writing as well.

Meanwhile, J's writing has benefited tremendously from our work with the "alphabet 8s" on a larger tablet. Here is a sheet of his practice writing, and I'm pleased to say that he finally seems to have gotten the hang of writing his lower-case letters from the top-down. He's pretty proud of himself for having finally figure it out!

So hurray for finding a time for practice! And hooray for having the flexibility to do what we do best during the afternoons without feeling like we're missing out on doing something we "should" be doing!

No comments: