My baby is growing up and I am so proud of everything he has accomplished in his short, little life. Jake has been in Pre-K 4 for four days now and he is loving every minute of it. I cannot express in words how happy this makes me. I laid awake for a few nights last week because I was so nervous about my little man going to school.
Apraxia, friends, bullies, the songs that he cannot sing, auditory memory problems (multi-step directions), fine motor problems, and food allergies are just a few of the things that had me stressing as I put all of our life down on paper last week and handed his new teacher a homemade resume.
Although I was a little nervous, the meeting with his teacher went very good. My Jake does things a little differently from the average child and while I wouldn’t have our outside-the-box life any other way, it is still a little unnerving to go through all the details with someone.
The truth is, I’ve actually lived in a little bit of a bubble for the past two years (no preschool and private speech therapy) and haven’t had to answer to anyone. I actually didn’t realize all the unique facets of our life until I started putting them into bullet points!
The food allergies are pretty straight forward, but the apraxia is a little hard to explain because it’s there, but not really. Although Jake sounds like a four-year-old with mostly age-appropriate errors, he’ll be cruising along and all of a sudden it will rear it’s ugly head … like with the Pledge of Allegiance or saying the Lord’s Prayer.
I haven’t dove into at-home recitation practice sessions yet, but I did try to get him to repeat the first two lines of the pledge and it came out all a mess. Fortunately, he’s faced enough challenges like these before that now he knows the best way to tackle them. “I need to practice the pledge. Mama, you need to write the words out for me,” he said last night before he went to bed.
Katie has been working with him a lot in speech therapy to strengthen his auditory memory skills and I just love to see her in action with him. The three of us are a great team! As she is working her magic, I hear Lynn Carahaly’s words chanting through my brain … fix the memory, fix the apraxia. Katie is working on Jake’s brain from many different angles and I think it’s the coolest thing ever.
We’ve spent the summer really honing in on the Speech-EZ Target Sound ID app, which works on first and last letter sound identification. Jake has mastered this skill and can give the hand cue for the first and last sound in a word and also identify the letter(s). His teacher has already started teaching phonics this week and “up” is their first word. He learned the /u/ sound earlier in the week and yesterday he learned the /p/ sound.
It’s kind of funny because his classroom has a nut/squirrel theme (perfect for the nut allergy kid!) and Jake is madly in love with Corky, the squirrel puppet who hangs out in the tree in their room. The kids are teaching Corky the letter sounds, which is supposed to take the pressure off of them and put it all on the squirrel. Jake is so excited to teach Corky his letter sounds!
The teacher’s approach in teaching phonics is perfect because she emphasizes not only the letter sound, but how it is made with your mouth and voice box. For example, she makes sure kids understand that /p/ is like a puff of air and that if they touch their voice box, they should feel no vibration with this sound. Today Jake said when they were going over the /p/ sound that she asked him to show the other kids what the hand cue for /p/ was.
What an awesome confidence builder! And, I’m so glad that I expanded our apraxia therapy regime to include phonological awareness. I think it’s really going to make a big difference in reading and spelling.
I’m also loving my parent/teacher communication sheet that I printed up at the advice of Leslie Lindsay. Jake’s teacher has been overly cooperative and has made me feel 110 percent at ease. Each afternoon I ask Jake the questions on the form and it gives him a great opportunity to recall what he did that day and put it into words, which is often hard for him to do. It’s also beneficial because it tells me what he needs to work on at home and I L.O.V.E. that I get to see how verbal he was on a scale from 1 to 10 for each day.
This is an exciting time for Jake and I and so far, this experience has been much different from two-year-old preschool. Each and every word he speaks on the way home makes my heart smile. Not a word goes by that is taken for granted. I can’t wait to see what the upcoming school year has in store for us.