I look down at the lined, spiral-bound notebook. I see what could be the letter “H” written in green, red and black marker. Before I can look more closely, my son flips to the next blank page.
Philip’s annual Individualized Education Plan (IEP) review will take place on Thursday morning. In preparation, I re-read his current IEP. The goals were based on several questionnaires that Peter and I completed, but they were mostly formulated on the basis of his play-based assessment. He only demonstrated understanding of three phrases. He only made the sound “mmmm.” He didn’t know how to play with a doll and cried at the sight of it. If I’m at all honest, I’d have to admit that the goals that were generated seemed so unattainable when they were written last October. When I look back at the notes and goals almost a year later, I’m wondering how high we can aim during the upcoming year.
Last year, however, the mere fact that Philip was going to preschool was enough to satisfy me. When we got the monthly calendar, I examined it only to determine if there were any days that Philip wouldn’t go to school or if we were responsible for the weekly snack. I might note what the weekly theme was, but I ignored the space on Fridays where the letter/sound of the week was displayed. Such academic content was not my concern. I was more worried about developing communication.
Things changed over the summer. Philip’s receptive language had grown by leaps and bounds. He could follow simple directions. He was starting to use PECS to communicate some needs. He was moving toward functional play. He began independently completing self-care tasks. He was starting to imitate the behaviors of others.
It was during this blossoming that Philip learned to write his name. I had taught him using a hand-over-hand technique, but eventually he began to copy the letter and then spontaneously write it. In fact, he became obsessive about it, writing “P” over and over. He wrote it in the sand using a stick, in the dirt using a rock, on the pavement using chalk, in shaving cream using his finger, in coloring books using crayons, on paper using markers and even on his high chair tray using spaghetti.
When school resumed in September, I realized that I needed to pay attention to the letter of week. I realized that this academic content had become relevant, and we should reinforce it at home.
Early last week, after Philip had raced across the living room for the millionth time, I asked him, “Do you want to color?” He answered by walking over to his supply box. How’s that for demonstrating receptive language?
Ever since he sat and colored that evening, he has become obsessive about drawing again. We’ve been leaving his dry erase markers at his easel so that he can draw whenever he wants. Except for the one day that he wrote on my desk, he has been leaving the markers in the tray after happily filling up the blank white board.
He has been requesting the box of crayons and markers more frequently, too. He wanted to color while he ate breakfast for the past two mornings. I’m not surprised since he had also wanted to color at night when he is supposed to be going to bed.
Last week, I noticed Philip writing the letter “J.” I checked the calendar for October to see if it was the letter of the week.
It was not.
I have no idea who showed him the letter “J.” In fact, I have to admit that I haven’t been the one to show him most of the letters that I now see popping up on his dry erase board or in the notebooks that he fills. In addition to a wide variety of letters, Philip has been drawing smiley faces, houses, trees, a sun and a bus. Not being much of a drawer myself, I haven’t been modeling this images for him. I’d like to brag about how much I’m teaching him, but it is a mystery to me.
I do know that I have reinforced the writing of his name. I had him sign all of the thank-you cards from his birthday. I’ve also had him write his name on cards. Of course, he is expected to write his name on his papers at preschool, too.
Last night, I saw a page filled with the letter “Y.” Nope, that’s not the letter of the week either. Again, I have no idea of its source. This week the letter is “E.” I modeled a few “E”s for him; he looked at them briefly before flipping the page and drawing more faces and ones and zeroes. Not sure what prompted the numbers either. I stepped away to do some dishes.
When I came back, what did I see on the once blank page?
E E E E
Today’s post has been brought to you by the letters H-A-P-P-Y.
What’s that badge? It’s the sign that I’m entering my first writing challenge. Check out the other great blog posts by clicking here. Whether you need to laugh, cry, think or escape you’ll find a post to suit your mood.