Dealing with Late Talking and Sensory Processing

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It’s almost 2 months since Elijah’s visit to the ENT specialist (read here).  He has been interacting with us a lot more and picking up new vocabulary; though his pronounced words aren’t clear.

After much reading about toe-walking and late talking, I thought I’d post some of the resources we’ve used and references I’ve found most helpful.  I hope it’ll be of use to someone reading this. Continue reading Dealing with Late Talking and Sensory Processing

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Late Talking: Looking Beyond the Mom Guilt and Whys

Over the past 5 months, our family struggled with a myriad of emotions.

My son who just turned 20 months hasn’t been speaking much. A lot of moms tell me that boys just develop at a slower pace. A part of me thought I was simply paranoid.

But something didn’t seem right when Elijah who was calling “Daddy”, “Mama”, “Jie Jie” (big sister in Chinese) suddenly stopped calling and spoke nothing.  He points to what he wants and scream when we don’t get him. He often try to drag us to the places he wants to go and grab our hands to show us what he wants.

As the main caregiver, one could imagine the kind of questions that went through my mind.

“Was it because of a head injury?” Elijah has always been an active child. He’s always climbing, running and prying into things.

“Could it be something I ate?” I wondered if the sashimi or caffeine I took affected my milk.

“Did I not pay enough attention to him?” The grandparents said this when they noticed Elijah’s lack of words.

A month ago, I finally had the courage to bring him to a friend who is a speech therapist for evaluation. She recommended some exercises to do with him, as she noticed he had difficulty focusing his attention.

Following that, I did more research.  I was now in “panic” mode. The red flags stated for Autism, Apraxia and ADD were relatively similar to Elijah’s situation.

I started to dread bedtime because my mind would try to reason for an answer in the stillness of the night. I was weary physically and spiritually. My pillow soaked in tears each night.

I had naturally assumed that talking would come quickly for Elijah because Hannah started talking early. By 18 months, she was already communicating fluently with us.

While I kept searching for the “why’s”, I persisted with my home exercises with Elijah. Things didn’t seem to improve after nearly a month. In fact, it seemed worse. He had more meltdowns and with that my firstborn felt left out. She started acting out more.

I tried to tell her that I needed more one-on-one time with her brother. Though it surely ain’t easy for someone whose love language is quality time to accept this.

She feels that Elijah is robbing away her time with her mother. And sometimes wish for her brother to go away. My heart broke when I heard those words.

Late talking: Siblings

I’m on my knees everyday. Asking for an answer. Praying for more love and understanding within the family. I couldn’t understand what God wanted us to learn.  I couldn’t understand why a perfect God allowed imperfection to enter into our lives. I am drained. I’ve ran out of logic.

By end of 3 weeks, I decided to bring Elijah to an ENT specialist to have his hearing checked.

The session was expensive because we didn’t seek a referral. But I knew I shouldn’t delay things. This nagging feeling of having his ears checked have been on my mind.

It turns out that it was a right decision. Elijah has impacted ear wax in both ears which affects his hearing (approx 10-20 decibels). We had the ear wax removed; terrifying experience for Elijah.

He then went for a hearing test. Results were positive. He has no hearing problems. The ENT specialist recommended a developmental pediatrician to evaluate Elijah’s development.

In the meantime, the husband reminded me of the upcoming church retreat in 2 weeks time.  I wasn’t looking forward to it having much dissonance within.

A week before we left for Malaysia, Elijah called out “Papa”.  My husband and I stared at each other in amazement.  He finally spoke something again!

I waited expectedly for more words. Nothing came.

The theme for our retreat was “Love Beyond Reason”. Dr. Peter Tan-chi of Christ’s Commission Fellowship was one of the guest speakers.  His sermons resonated most with us.  His sharing about his daughter’s tragedy; of pain and restoration were inspiring and compelling.

Did I receive a word from God during the camp?  No.  But I’m beginning to understand what Mother Teresa said:

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.

Mother Teresa

I do not know how our journey will unfold; how God will write Elijah’s life story.  Please pray together with us while we cling on to God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

P/s: Elijah called “Mama” on the third day of our retreat, right after our service!  His every word spoken becomes so precious to me…

ABC Jesus Loves Me (ABCJLM) Curriculum Review

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I’m terribly late with this curriculum review. But time has only heightened my appreciation for Heidi Franz’s “ABC Jesus Loves Me” (ABCJLM) curricula.

We’ve used all four of ABCJLM’s curricula: 2-year to 5-year. Here’s how we began:

During our first year of homeschooling (read here), I wasn’t sure if things would work out.  Hannah was then barely two.  All I knew was, I wanted a Bible-centered curriculum. And it has to be affordable.

So clueless me googled “homeschool curriculum for preschool”, and read many blogs and homeschool forums.  Then I cried.

Some curricula were terribly expensive (shipping fee not factored in)! Others were too overwhelming. How was I to do my laundry, cook, mop the floor…. I just wasn’t sure if I could complete all the things in the checklist within a week.

I prayed and prayed. There’s a tug in my heart to embark this journey.  But how Lord?

Finally, I landed on “ABC Jesus Loves Me” website.  It’s bible-centered. Check! The lessons seem doable. Check! It’s comprehensive. Check! It’s FREE!! Hallelujah!

Some friends whom I spoke to were skeptical about the quality of a free curriculum.  So I did more research. Having read many good reviews about the curriculum, I held my breath and took the plunge.

Four years on, I’m glad I took the first step.

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“ABC Jesus Loves Me” curriculum offers more than just academic development.  It teaches about gross and fine motor skills.

I especially like that it incorporates tips on basic manners, self-care and information a child ought to know. Being a first-time mom, I wasn’t sure what to teach and when without overwhelming my child. So having weekly objectives were definitely welcomed!

Following a weekly objective helped pace our learning.  I didn’t have to follow a daily lesson plan or checklist rigidly. The activities and crafts were adequate.

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Of course, I’m very, absolutely grateful that Heidi offers ALL lesson plans to homeschool families for free.

While you could have the lesson plans and workbooks printed for you,  I had several concerns.  Firstly, I wasn’t sure if homeschooling works out for us.  Secondly, the international shipping fee was is a BIG concern for me.  The currency exchange rate is another major factor.  USD$60 = nearly SGD$90 (excluding shipping fee).

Without a doubt, having everything printed allows me to have more sleep. 🙂  I might consider this option when teaching Elijah.

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Early this year, Heidi introduced the 1-year curriculum. We’re several weeks into the curriculum for Elijah.  So far so good!  Elijah has picked up basic sign-language.  His learning pace is vastly different from Hannah’s.  This new curriculum certainly provides me with much needed tips and ideas.

I find it difficult to teach Hannah and occupy Elijah at the same time.  I’ve tried setting up independent activities for Elijah but he doesn’t play on his own for long.  He’s more interested in his sister’s work!

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Having started on the 1-year curriculum, I find that I’m able to teach both children.  Hannah enjoys helping her brother in his work.  And she gets what she enjoys: more “school” time with me.

I still struggle to carve out time to prepare activities, borrow books and print activity sheets for both children.  Nowadays, I’m so drained by evening that I end up in bed with the kids. If you have any tips or suggestion on how to better manage time, please drop me a line.  Suggestions very welcomed!

Ok, I’ve digressed…

All in all, if you’re looking for a flexible, Bible-centered, quality preschool curricula, then check out ABC Jesus Loves Me.

Happy homeschooling!

DIY Montessori Inspired Activities: Visual, Auditory and Tactile

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1. Patterning with Shapes

I couldn’t get the wooden pattern blocks I saw on a particular blog shop (they were sold out), so instead, I cut up pieces of construction paper into various shapes and sizes for Hannah to play.  Before we got started, I introduced each shape and showed Hannah how to piece them.  Then I let her little fingers do the piecing.  It was interesting to see that Hannah was trying to be me.  As she too tried to introduce the shapes to me, then say the same thing as I did while piecing the shapes together to form a house.  I’m hearing a little me talking!

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2. Sound Cups

This idea came about when I was reading “How to raise an amazing child the Montessori way” by Tim Seldin.  The idea was to refine her auditory sense while she discriminate the sounds.

Firstly, I chose four identical cups.  Two of the cups had a $1 coin (which was heavier so it produced a lower pitch sound), while the other two had smaller coins like, a 10 cents.  These produce a higher pitch sound.  Then I wrapped the top with aluminum foil and used rubber bands to seal it (so that it’s easier to remove later on).

Next, I showed Hannah how to hold the cups with her fingertips and thumb (so that she’s lightly holding the cups).  Then, I told Hannah to shake the cups and match two cups that sounded the same together.  There were times when she was impatient and tried to shake two containers at the same time.  I explained that she wouldn’t be able to hear the distinction if both were shaken at the same time.

After she made her choices, we opened the foil tops to see if her answers were correct.  We talked about which cups gave a lower/higher pitch because of its weight and size.

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3. What’s Under the Blanket?

This is a similar approach to the Mystery Bag.  Initially it was intended to be a Mystery Bag game but our little girl wouldn’t want to put her hands into the bag so I improvised by using a blanket.

I took some items found around the house and had Hannah put her hands under the blanket and guess what it was.  While she was guessing, I posed questions like, “Is it soft or hard?”, “What shape is it?”, or “Is it rough or smooth?”.

The items used were an orange, a paper clip, a clothes peg, a button, a bottle cap, cotton wool, a thimble, and an ice-cube.

For more Montessori activities, you could check out the following websites.  I found much inspiration and ideas from them!

  1. http://www.infomontessori.com/index.htm
  2. http://www.racheous.com

Games to Teach Children their Name

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Hannah has been learning how to spell her name over the past weeks. Although it’s part of  3 Year ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum, I follow the lesson plans loosely.

Besides learning to spell her name through a song (see my previous post), Hannah plays the following games:

  1. Put letters of her name in correct order
    I write letters of Hannah’s name on pieces of paper.  Then, have Hannah sort her name in the correct order.  I try not to interfere when she’s trying to piece her name together.  So even if she seems uncertain, I’ll ask her to try again.  If she still has trouble piecing them correctly, we’ll go through the name song to jog her memory.
  2. Pick the correct letters of her name and put them in correct order
    Once Hannah is able to put the letters of her name in correct order, I threw in extra letters, and she has to pick the correct letters and piece them together.  Again, we’ll recite the name song if she needs help.
  3. Arrange her name in correct order with the capital letter in front
    Now that Hannah is comfortable arranging the letters of her name in order, I introduced her name in lower case, and teaching her that the first letter of her name should be a capital.  There are still times, she’ll still get confused and put the capital letter “H” at the end.  I’ll correct her by  putting the capital letter in front.

It’s such an exciting period of learning to read and write!  If you have any other suggestions to help Hannah read and write, please share them with me.

Wet Weather Activity: Infantino Learn About Animals of the World Puzzle

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The wet season is here.  It has been raining every day , usually in the afternoons and early evenings.  Besides the usual wet weather activities like painting, playing play dough and doing household chores (a wonderful excuse to clean the house together), it was time for our jigsaw puzzles to come out of the storeroom!

There’s just something relaxing about being inside on a cold day and listening to the rain.  Hearing the pitter patter on the window pane, piecing a puzzle, and having cookies with milk.

A favourite puzzle that the family enjoys is Infantino’s “Learn About Animals of the World Puzzle”.  It is a 45-piece puzzle that allows the child to learn about the world, animals and their homes.

We play it every so often that Hannah can now piece the puzzle almost independently now.  It’s a fun and useful learning tool to learn about the countries and its native animals.  For instance, we learned that the grey wolf can be found at the boreal regions of Russia, and the giant tortoises are found in the Galápagos Islands.

What’s more, we got to learn a number of famous monuments/places around the world; like the Taj Mahal in India, Mount Fuji in Japan, Table Mountain in South Africa, and Eiffel Tower in France.

The puzzle also includes several fun facts about the featured animals.  Did you know that the sperm whale can live for about 80 years? And the octopus can change colour to match its surroundings?

A multifaceted learning tool that’s worth every penny.

Do you know of any other wet-weather activity to help me tide through these few months?  Please share them with me!

DIY Montessori Inspired Stencils – Shapes

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While reading up on writing and the progression of handwriting, I chanced upon a Montessori related article mentioning the use of metal inserts to teach children handwriting.  These inserts are of 10 geometrical shapes: circle, ellipse, oval, curvilinear triangle, quatrefoil, square, rectangle, triangle, trapezoid, and pentagon.

Upon googling, these metal inserts cost more than what I expect, so I’ve created my set of stencils using cardboard.  Although, it isn’t as sturdy as metal inserts, Hannah made good progress with them.  I didn’t do all 10 shapes just the basic few like circle, triangle, square, rectangle, and I’ve included a diamond shape since we’ve been learning about it.

I could see Hannah trying to control her color pencil and crayon while she traced around the stencils.  She happily named each shape as she traced.  It was a wonderful moment when I heard Hannah shouted, “Yeah!”, when she successfully traced her first shape.  The stencils were a great help as they guided her little hands. I sensed it was not as frustrating as drawing free-hand.

If your child is learning to write, why not DIY your very own set of shape stencils and watch your child have fun with them!

Putting into Practice – Household Chores

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Are you at the stage where your two-year-old wants to do everything by himself? Hannah has been wanting to try this or do that every now and then.  And she tends to get frustrated if I wouldn’t let her or wanted to her do something else.

Recently, she wanted to learn to cut her food and wash the dishes. I was reluctant. I was afraid she might cut herself or the washing detergent might irritate her sensitive skin.  After much persuasion from Hannah, I relented.

For starters, she learned to cut her snacks with a butter knife.  It was a good opportunity to teach her fractions too.  I showed her what it meant to cut in halves and quarters.

Next, Hannah learned how to wash her cup, dish and utensils after each meal.  Usually, I would do the first scrub, after that she’d scrub the second round, and wash them.

I must admit, it isn’t easy for me to let Hannah do things on her own.  I’m taking baby steps one at a time.  I guess, it’s all part and parcel of parenthood.  She’s learning, I’m learning too.

You might also like to see:

A check-list of age-appropriate household chores

DIY Clothes Peg Number Match

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To help Hannah revise her numbers from 1-10, I came up with a matching game using clothes pegs and dot stickers.  I reckoned most mothers have played something similar with their children before.

I had previously made number cards using a cereal box and number stickers (bought from scrap-booking shop).  Hannah hasn’t played with them for a while so I decided to recycle them for our game.  Using leftover dot stickers, I wrote the numbers, stuck them on the clothes peg and had Hannah match them.

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There are many variations of matching games you could try:

  1. Number word to digit (I’m going to try this next)
  2. Capital letter to lower-case letter
  3. Number dots to digit or number word
  4. Peg colour to word
  5. Number of pegs to digit
  6. Spelling

The list is endless!  Just do a quick search on the Internet and you know what I mean.  I’m starting to love my pegs already! Never underestimate the humble clothes peg ~Hee!

P/s: I love this set of rainbow coloured pegs.  They just brighten up my laundry days 🙂

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed

Cover of "Ella Sarah Gets Dressed: Lap-Si...

This wasn’t the intended book of the week.  I couldn’t find the recommended book by ABCJLM at our library, and wasn’t sure which other book I should replace with.  So as I was glancing through the book recommendations by the library, this book caught my attention.  I grabbed it and walked out of the library. I have to admit, I chose the book because of its beautiful illustrations.  The attractive patterns reminded me of printmaking and tapestry.

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed” is written and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine.  This Caldecott Honor-winning story is about a spunky little girl who woke up one morning wanting to dress in a particular way.  But all her family members advised her otherwise, and gave alternatives (to dress how they would).  Ella Sarah was determined to keep her fashion sense and she eventually did!

Hannah resonated with this story particularly because she’s at the stage where she wants to do everything on her own.  She also adored the little teddy that appeared in the story. Naturally, my little girl followed through all the book of the week activities and couldn’t have enough of it.  Here are the things we did:

Filling in the story
As I re-read the story, Hannah filled in the repeated phrases e.g. when Ella Sarah says “pink polka-dot pants, dress with orange-and-green flowers…”

Hannah gets dressed day
This is Hannah’s favourite activity! I allowed her to dress up however she wants.  Of course, the outfit didn’t last for long.  It was way too humid to layer the clothes!

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Pinning clothes on washing line
I borrowed this idea from storytime kate.  We hung cut-out “clothes” (made from coloured paper) on a ribbon “washing line”.  This is a good fine motor skill for Hannah as she carefully strung the clothes with her pegs.

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On the whole, I’m glad my spur-of-the-moment decision (I’m not usually like this) brought good results.  This is definitely a must-read for your à la mode little girl.