kid's lion mask playonwords.comI always enjoyed working in the schools and now look forward to my bi-monthly meetings with the staff at an elementary school who works with one of my kids on the autism spectrum. There is such a depth of knowledge and creativity around the table with the classroom teacher, OT, PT, special ed teacher, psychologist, parent and speech therapist.

The kindergarten teacher is so lively and really requires language learning in every subject. When a child gives an answer to a wh-question after reading a story in circle time, she asks, “Why did you say that?” or “What makes you say that?” so they have to articulate their reasoning behind their answer. This technique really requires the child to think through his answers. For instance, if she asks, “How does the character feel?” and the child says, “Angry,” he must then explain why he said that. “Because his face is mad,” or “Because his friend went away.” This concept of explaining one’s answer gets interesting in math when a child tells which string is short, or which group has less and so on, and then must explain how he got that answer. Less than, more than and same as are all math concepts to explain calling on language skills. When the kids are identifying shapes, they have to tell why they said that. “Why is it a circle?” I also work with a 7th grader who has to complete her math journal each week. She is given a math puzzle to solve and must talk through the steps that she tried, if they worked, if not what did she try next and so on. Kids are being required to attach the language to their learning in all subjects.

This week they are working on counting out the syllables in a word. I have taught that concept through clapping them out but this teacher added an activity where the child puts their hand under their chin and is told to “Chin it!” That means they count the times their chin hits their hand as they say the word–clever (which by the way is 2 syllables!).