Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Day In Preschool!!

In my program, we have 3 different classes. On Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, 2 sets of students come--they are my 3 year olds, one morning class and one afternoon class. On Tuesdays/Thursdays, my 4 year olds come just in the morning. Each class is 2 1/2 hours and we have a lot to do each day!
Here is a brief description of our day and why we do what we do:

Arrival and Free Play:
Once our kids get off the bus or dropped off by their family, we head to the classroom and the playing begins! From a teacher's point of view, this is our chance to take attendance and look through backbacks, etc.
From the students' points of view, it's free time! They get to do their main job in life--PLAY! It's a child-directed time where they can explore, read a book, build blocks, do a puzzle, cut and color...the possibilities are endless!
How is this speech and language therapy? Well, the 3 adults in the classroom (me and my 2 assistants) use this time to model correct productions. We get to play, too! As we push cars, we talk about it. As the children pretend to cook, we talk about it. If there is a battle over a toy, we talk about it and give the students the correct words.
The adults in the classroom are always talking with them about what they are doing (“oh, the car is going fast!”) or have them follow directions (for example “pick up the red block and put it on top of the table”).

Opening Circle:
Here, we are basically teaching the children to be students, including how to sit and pay attention for 10-15 minutes. That can be a long time for a preschooler! We also work on name recognition, spelling their names and simple math, like counting and simple addition.
How is this speech and language therapy? We work on answering questions (who is this? what is your name? who is not here?), saying short sentences (my name is ___) and we help the kids with their pronunciation (if she says "I am a dirl," we give her lots of help to say that /g/ sound and say "girl").

Meal Time:
Who doesn't like to eat? It's a pretty motivating time in our day! Yum! Not only do we work on talking, we also introduce some literacy skills--we have placemats with drawings of all the things we need, plus the written words.
How is this speech and language therapy? My students don't get anything without making an attempt to communicate! Some kids can say "I want pancakes," other kids will use American Sign Language signs for "more" and "milk" to get their drink. It's also a great time for me to make sure their feeding skills are fine and they can move their mouths correctly.

At the second circle of the day, we focus on the vocabulary theme we are working on. We talk about the words and look at the pictures on the bulletin board. Then we will sing a couple of songs or read a book related to the theme.
How is this speech and language therapy? One of the most common goals that my students have are to learn more vocabulary words. The constant repetition of the vocabulary words, especially in song, help them learn the words so they are able to point to the word and then say it. Books are also a fantastic way to learn vocabulary and to teach storytelling.

Small Group Rotations:
During small groups, the students spend about 8-10 minutes at each of our 3 activities. The activities they do here typically change each class, although we may repeat some. Here, we have teacher-directed activities where we focus on pre-math, pre-literacy, fine motor and articulation and language skills.
How is this speech and language therapy? First, each activity is related to the vocabulary theme that we are working on, so they have more practice with these words. Second, the students need to request everything! They can't even get a crayon without saying "I want a crayon!" Finally, this is the time where I really get some direct time with them to work on their specific speech and language goals, including vocabulary, grammar, following directions and articulation.

Outside Play:
Here, we really let the kids run free! They can ride tricycles, run around, play games, and sometimes go to the bigger kid playground and slide and swing. It's fabulous for gross motor skills!
How is this speech and language therapy? Well, we have the kids in their favorite environment, so they are very motivated to get what they want. This makes it easier for us to get them to request. They also learn to use correct words to get what they want and to share--the bikes are popular, but there just aren't enough! It's also a time for us to simply model correct speech and language, like "he is riding," "she is running," "the ball is under the slide" or the /s/ sound in "Swing."

Closing Circle:
At the end of the day, we finish up by singing goodbye, reviewing the day and lining up to head out to the waiting bus or mommy and daddy.
How is this speech and language therapy? When we review the day, we have pictures representing each activity, so we are teaching them to sequence. This included important words like "first, next, last." Also, the students need to say "I want my backpack" before they can go, reinforcing the fact that they need to use their words.

Our day goes by fast, but, as you can see, it's full of lots of speech and language opportunities!
Until next time, "Good bye friends, we're sad to see you go, boom boom!"

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