Jake began kindergarten in August and turned six on September 9th. He is one of the older kids in the class and having an extra year of speech and fine motor development made all the difference in the world.
I am happy to report that Jake is doing really well in a neurotypical classroom. He is showing no signs of learning problems like dyslexia or ADHD that sometimes accompany apraxia. His focus/attention is good and ironically enough, he is catching on to reading better than my other two boys did.
Raz-Kids is the online reading program his school uses for at-home practice and I love it for the following reasons:
- Repetition of key words in each story.
- Great visuals!
- Questions at the end of the story. (Memory-building skills)
Narrative writing & penmanship
Jake is struggling in narrative writing. Kids in kindergarten write stories about real topics like a place they have visited, a favorite Christmas memory, etc. It doesn’t surprise me that Jake is having trouble in this area because it is a brain explosion for him.
After all, a little over a year ago, he couldn’t even answer basic /w/ questions like, “What did you eat for breakfast?” It makes perfect sense to me that a deeper, more thought-intensive question now would be difficult for him.
Consider the brain work that goes on in this activity:
- Come up with a topic and arrange it into sentences. (Yikes! What about all that apraxia word scrambling?!?)
- Spell each word by sounding it out. (Recall / memory skills)
- Write each letter. (Hold on to the letter in your brain for long enough to then be able to recall how to write it.)
It was interesting to me that although Jake’s handwriting is near perfect when copying words off the board, it is horrible when he writes stories. When his teacher showed me his first stories, I was shocked at how terrible his penmanship was. I suppose by the time all those thought processes occur, the end result is a mess.
It reminded me of when he could expertly mimic all of the Kaufman words, but if he tried to recall the word on his own by looking at the picture, there was blank silence. The breakdown in the mental process of getting from Point A to B and finally to C was lost.
Mixing up voiceless /t/ and voiced /d/ in writing
This problem parallels one of my biggest takeaways from our intensive with Lynn Carahaly … it is vital for kids with apraxia to have a strong voice to ear, ear to brain connection. They must be able to not only say the word correctly, but also really understand the nitty-gritty details of letters and the sounds they make. If this skill is not given some extra TLC, apraxic kids will probably spell the word as they say it.
I really worked a lot on this skill, especially with Lynn’s Target Sound Identification app, but obviously there is still a little bit of a disconnect. Fortunately, from a phonics viewpoint, we are just having trouble with those two letters. I correct it with a hand cue both in his writing and speech and know he eventually will get it.
Consistent speech errors
- Puts “ing” on the end of words instead of “ed.” (I am exciting vs. I am excited).
- Incorrect word order when asking questions. (What that is?)
Yes, I cue him on the mistakes. Yes, we work on it. No, this skill is still not clicking after about a year of practice. But, it took us 1.5 years to master proper pronoun usage and I know eventually it will come.
- Twenty minutes of reading per week.
- Spelling test with six words. (We practice M,T,W,Th)
- Daily, quick math activity.
The weekly newsletter from his teacher (who I love!) tells me what phonics skills they are working on. I typically review this with Jake on Thursday for about five minutes. We work on story writing about two times a week for thirty minute sessions.
Do you have a child about to enter kindergarten?
Is your child in kindergarten this year? What’s your experience been like?