Monday, January 9, 2012

Tot School is hard with tantrums

Man Alive.

My child has seriously exhausted me the last 18 days. 18 days since he attended his normal 2.5 hour preschool. That is 432 hours...not that I'm counting or anything. But he has been a NIGHTMARE all the time. Seriously! I have a behavior chart with a bunch of tasks, one of which is whining. I haven't been able to give him a star for not whining since putting the chart up. In early December.

My son is 39 months, or 3 years, 3 months (for those of you who wish to keep your addition/multiplication/division at a minimum unless doing helping your kid with his homework). When he was just shy of hitting the 2-year-mark, I was trying to convince my husband to start trying for another baby. Then C hit the terrible two's. And that just never stopped. Needless to say, I think if C becomes a big brother, he might be in kindergarten by the time I give birth. And he has a late birthday, so kindergarten is 2.5 years away. :)

Needless to say, the pics are slightly chaotic. Its hard to take pictures when your child is having a full on kicking-and-screaming tantrum and throwing things at you. Oh yeah, my kid's a thrower. I'm proud. Especially of the red dry erase marker line on my arm after he barely missed my face earlier.

One great thing I did was buy a large dry erase board and hang it on the wall. Its basically right above the trim so my son can either stand, kneel, or sit and fiddle on the board. I bought a bunch of different colored glass gems (hit up the floral department of Hobby Lobby: lots of times they are 50% off and you can get them for only a couple bucks). Then I bought some circular magnets and glued them on. The gems typically have a rough back which means the magnet tape won't stick on them perfectly, so I just add some gorilla glue...those suckers aren't going anywhere. :)

My goal has been that C enjoy playing with these things, but also learning about shapes, colors, and following directions. So I would draw a line or shape and ask him to put the magnets ON or IN the shape. He didn't much care for putting the magnets on the line, but loved outlining the star. Go figure! (my mom told me today that, duh, a line is soooo not fun. Shapes are more fun. Umm, okay.)

Over the weekend, in an attempt to get a cute idea that would involve a lot of creativity on his part, I drew a snowman shape and had him glue cotton balls onto the shape. To say he was THRILLED with the glue stick would be an understatement! But, do you know how hard it is to explain to a 3-year-old how a glue stick shouldn't be jammed into the carpet? Note to self: glue sticks only given AT THE TABLE.

According to C, a snowman doesn't need two eyes. It needs a gazillion, all over its body. And one on its arm.

Due to his enthusiasm with the snowman, I quickly just ripped up a piece of paper and asked him to glue them onto a new main piece of paper.

I have to admit, this required more of my husband and I than my son. He really just wanted to play with the glue stick. He, of course, had a tantrum when I took the glue stick away.

Looking for a cheap toy? This one can't be beat! Take a drink container (this is the WalMart version of Crystal Light). Cut a small hole in the lid. Put a $.99 container of small pom poms in. Give to your kid. Watch the fun.

C is in love with anything that requires dumping and then putting back into containers. That is why I can say he's actually quite good at cleaning up toys. He loves to put stuff back. He's now started helping us empty the dishwasher...obviously we only give him his plastic cups, bowls and plates to put away. But he thinks he's pretty cool helping out.

Dump 'em out, put 'em back in. Awesome fun! (excuse the horrible glare off the tv, my husband was searching the schedule for something to DVR).

Very intrigued with the lid and the hole. I made the hole slightly smaller than the pom poms, because I wanted him to have to WORK to get the pom poms into the container. This is a great task for working on fine motor development. He also loves taking the lid off and putting it back on, another good thing for fine motor skills. Our dog apparently felt the need to get involved. If you think he's big, you'll enjoy knowing he's not even 9 months old yet. The vet who told me he would "only" be 40-50 pounds is full of it! I can't even lift him anymore, I think he's at least 60 pounds.

Capping off the week with more dry erase board fun. C is definitely left-handed, so I positioned all of his magnet letters on the right so he has more than enough room to draw and be crazy with the markers. His favorite color to work with is definitely red.

Some other activities we completed this week but didn't get pictures of included working more in our Toddler Book letter A stuff, playing with stickers in a lined notebook I've decided is only for his stickers (another great fine motor game!), painted with water colors and paint daubers (my water baby was much more enthralled with the small container of water I had on the table for the watercolors...although he didn't quite understand why the water wouldn't show up with the amazing colors I could produce when I actually painted correctly. :). My camera had a coniption fit and "locked" for some reason, so I couldn't take pictures for a few days. Him working with the Letter A stuff is pretty cute. I've decided to hold off on printing the Letter B packet, and instead printed the Winter Tot Pack and The Snowy Day printables...I just have to get to a bookstore to buy the book. :) Or, incontinuing my desire to stay cheap, maybe I'll see if the library has it.

For next week, C GOES BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! Oh Joy. Now, I know there are moms out there who will be aggravated with me for being excited about that. But he goes to a fantastic preschool within the local elementary. Their resources are things I could NEVER give him. I'm not trained in physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. ALL of the ideas I've posted over the past two Tot School posts have been things I've found online. The preschool also means my son has fantastic opportunities to engage with other children. He has a "best friend" in the classroom, who is the same height and blonde like him. Its really quite cute.

Having him in school also means I will have more time to devote to a couple of at-home jobs I do. I sell Stampin' Up, as well as write for a couple of local newspapers. It brings in a little extra money, which means I get to stay home with C and not have to think about him being in full time care. Plus, my son LOVES school. He loves the way they make him think, the fun activities they do, and the great amenities that my house just doesn't have. They have a big gym with lots of toys and whatnot, plus a P.T./O.T. room with swings, gym pads, and lots more. The improvement he's made since beginning preschool in mid-October is phenomenal. I'm so glad we live in the place we do, and that his teacher chose to come back to preschool developmental delay when she did. Having 2.5 hours by myself each day isn't bad either. :) 

This post is linked up with Tot School over at 1+1+1=1. Amazing stuff over there! Lots of the printables we work with were from there!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another change...

(I'm changing the title of this post because this post is getting spammed between 20 and 30 times a day. All because I linked up to a website. Sheesh! So instead of deleting the entire thing, I'm going to try and change the title and hope it doesn't get spammed anymore. Or else I'll have to painstakingly move the entire post over to a new post...which I will only do as a last resort. Yes, I know I haven't posted since May. The second half of 2012 wasn't too kind to me. My crafting business is hurting horribly and issues with my son have taken priority. Hopefully in 2013 I'll be able to come back and actually SHOW stuff on here.)
This post will be quite a bit different from anything I've ever posted before. As this blog is typically used for crafty purposes, its a big departure to focus on toddler/preschool learning!

Quick update on our situation. C is 39 months old. He has a genetic condition called Velocardiofacial Syndrome, meaning a section of the 22nd chromosome is missing. 90% of these cases (1 out of every 2000 births) are just chance. The other 10% are genetically passed down from a parent. C now has a 50% chance of passing this syndrome on to his children.

VCFS has over 180 characteristics associated with it. C doesn't have a lot of the extremely horrible ones (heart defects, kidney issues, cleft palate), but he does have low muscle tone. If you consider how many things can be effected by muscle tone, you'd realize why he's delayed. He didn't crawl until 14 months, walk until 26 months, and just within the past 2-3 months he's finally talking. The tongue is a muscle, and he's had a lot of trouble figuring out how to properly work it.

After two years of physical therapy, he's catching up quite nicely in gross motor development. Speech therapy was almost a waste of time because of a less-than-stellar therapist who seemed quite nonchalant about C's development. After adding two different therapists in 2011, he definitely improved. Now he attends a developmental delay preschool for 2.5 hours each day, and the improvement has been phenomenal!

Because of seeing his improvement, it became disgustingly clear to my husband and I that we should be giving C so many more learning opportunities at home. Thanks to the best invention in the world, Pinterest, I've found countless blogs and learning sites that have the most amazing ideas for play learning. The first one we tried over the past two weeks has been water beads.

This is what water beads actually look like to start. I found them in the fake floral aisle at WalMart, they are pretty cheap. I started with the clear ones because I wasn't sure how much they would stain...and now I realize WHY all of the blogs I peruse never show clear ones. Those suckers are hard to find! And they bounce pretty if your child misses the container, they will just roam around freely. So I don't think I'll do clear ones again. :)

You just can't experience something unless you stick your hands and arms all the way in. And C's a multi-tasker: the television was on with Sesame Street at this point. We don't miss Elmo.

To add another amazing quality, I made my own lightbox with two strands of Christmas lights and an empty sterilite container. I didn't take any photos of C actually playing at this point. I realized very quickly that the containers being the same size would be a problem: i.e., tipping over and crashing to the floor (probably taking the toddler with it). So I changed it up for the next session, and put a very large under-the-bed container as the base with the lights in it.

(Okay, this pic is soooo not mine, but how cool is this sensory table?? This was C's last day at preschool before Christmas break. I was so amazed by this, it might be something I do next year!)

Here we are playing again. Taking out of one container, and dumping into another. The water beads were such a hit, I think we played with them every day for a week! (Just a note...they will mold after time. C was devastated to see that I disposed of them today.)

One of the rather interesting characteristics C has is that he doesn't like to have sticky fingers. His teachers comment on his distaste for paint and glue. So I decided to bring out some finger paint and see what he did. He immediately went for the paint brushes, as I assumed he would.

When in doubt, two hands and two brushes are better.

Uh oh, its on his hands! What ever will he do?!?!

He began to experiment, by dipping just one finger into the paint and smooshing it onto the paper.

Now he has multiple brushes in one hand, but is feeling paint between the fingers of his left hand. :)

Success! Full-on finger/hand painting. I may have had a "hand" (har har) in this, as I forcefully gently took his hand and smooshed it into the paint, then put it onto the paper. He thought that was pretty cool.

We also began (although I don't have any pictures) the Tot School printables found on 1+1+1=1. Beginning with the letter A, I put all of the printables into clear covers in a binder and gave C some dry erase markers. He thought it was the coolest thing EVER!! It was such a big hit. C has never really been into learning things like colors and numbers...sometimes I wonder if he's hearing me, ignoring me, or just not caring about it. But these printables are really allowing me to reiterate things like colors and a general theme (the A printables all revolve around apples). Plus he likes having the control over flipping pages. My clear covers aren't the best for constant erasing, so I've purchased some heavy duty ones.

This week we will move on to the letter B. I've also began looking at the preschool packs on the 1+1+1=1 website, and have downloaded a cool one that I think C will enjoy. I'm going to try it and see if he's ready for it or not, and I might start doubling up on the toddler and preschool packs that the website has.

We've seen such amazing improvement in C over the past month. My husband and I joke that C always performs in December (crawling, walking, talking...that's the past three Decembers!!) because he wants to make a good impression on Santa. :) I really look forward to learning and growing with C throughout 2012 and helping him to catch up developmentally. Its going to be a great year!