Tuesday, January 22, 2013

5 Dots

In my (sort of) panic to get Luke ready for kindergarten, we started doing seat time everyday.  Well, that's the goal anyway.  It doesn't actually happen everyday.  Anyway, this was an idea that Luke's ABA therapist and I put together to help Luke learn how to sit in a seat and work independently.  To begin he did activities like play with the ipad or paint or string beads on a shoelace-- any activity that he could do on his own and that he enjoyed-- with the simple goal to practice sitting in his seat.  I praised him for staying in his chair and for working independently.  Then I introduced more "academic" activities like tracing letters and doing coloring activities.  Once these types of activities were introduced Luke needed a clear motivator to help him stay focused.  Shortly after moving to Amarillo I made this "dot chart" with card stock, lamination, velcro, and buttons.  It is the BEST THING EVER.

When Luke is doing a good job (like when he completes a task) he earns a dot.  When he has 5 dots he gets to do the reward that we had, in advance, agreed that he could have/do after earning 5 dots.  So he will get to turn the fan on in Mama's room a few times.  Or pretend to drive my car.  Or use the extension cord to plug in his stereo.  Or use his little CD player.  Or pick one of Mama's CDs.  Or whatever it is that makes him tick that day.  Currently the things he picks most often are:

1) Turning the oven vent on and off
2) Pretending to drive a car
3) Using the power sander

Here he is with the sander.
(We are redoing our kitchen table and chairs.)

When we first started doing more academic type activities he would earn 5 dots in the process of completing one activity (like one worksheet) because he needed frequent reinforcement.  He has now come far enough that, often, each dot is a different activity.  For more challenging activities, he can earn 2-3 dots for doing an activity independently in a reasonable time frame.  Here are some examples of the ways Luke earns his dots:

I really like Luke's private OT here.  She pinpointed some struggles that Luke has and is really good about giving me homework to do with him.  Some of the things we are targeting are tracking with his eyes (keeping his head still and following an object by moving only his eyes,) writing lowercase letters (Luke especially has a hard time with diagonal lines), and drawing shapes.  With his shapes we target directionality, like making a circle that starts at the top and moves to the left first (as opposed to the right.)  These are activities that require a lot of verbal reminders and even hand over hand teaching.  These are important skills that he needs, but he can't do them independently yet.  Luke usually has one "cycle" of dot-earning that focuses on difficult tasks in which I am highly involved.

Sometimes we are solely targeting independent work.  So he does activities that he has more or less mastered.  The point is just to stay in his seat and get his work done without me being next to him.  Some of the activities he does for this 5-dot cycle are letter worksheets (the letters he already knows well), coloring, cutting, puzzles, or drawing pictures.  We try to do 1 cycle of independent work each day too.

And recently we added another cycle where we do a reading lesson from the book "Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons."  I got this book because Luke is excited for reading and ready to learn, but I am unsure how to teach phonics correctly.  In every song, etc. kids are taught that A says aaaa, like in apple.  But what about in the word "about" or "almost" or "ape?"  This book helps me teach the phonics rules.  And then we also do sight words some too, even though this book bashes on that technique for teaching.  But whatever.  I have found that usually a "little bit of this and a little bit of that" approach tends to be the best.

Letter practice-- 
Micah always joins in for easel writing.
He is a BIG fan of the dry-erase markers.

It probably sounds a bit overwhelming to do these cycles everyday.  It was at first, but we've made a routine now, and since Luke is used to the routine, it goes pretty fast.  And then there is the fact that Luke is HIGHLY motivated to earn his dots.  So most of the time a cycle starts at his request.  He will say, "Mom, can I earn 5 dots so I can drive your car?" and I'll say sure!  If I'm busy at the moment we focus on working independently.  If I'm free, we target a more difficult skill.  So Luke is happy.  I'm happy.  And he is making sooooo much progress.  And, as an added bonus, since Micah is always watching during the lessons and wanting to participate too, Micah is learning a ton as well.

Now.  Can I earn 5 dots if I clean my bathrooms today?


Keegan said...

You are *such* an incredible teacher! I think Luke's gonna be way more ready for kindergarten than Caleb is-- maybe I can look up your ideas and call you for tips next year. I wouldn't even know where to start!

Kathleen said...

Luke and Olivia would make the cutest kids on the entire planet, and Luke is so funny I know Olivia would love him so YES they need to get married.

You're the best mom I know and I can only hope to be half as dedicated, patient and perfect as you are. Thank you for sharing all your ideas. I think Olivia needs to practice some seat time, too. Olivia hates coloring. She'll request to do it but gets bored after about twenty seconds!! Maybe if I give her more goal oriented things to she will concentrate longer??!

Trevor said...

I think I would be all over the sander reward. Tell those boys hi! We miss them.

Kari said...

You are so organized! Me--I come up with a great idea, do it for a week and for some unknown reason stop following thru even if the kids were loving it. You're amazing!