Published in speld (sa) Newsletter Autumn 2003

Children at this age quickly become aware that the skills other children seem to be developing easily are very difficult for them. Consequently, they often try to avoid them. Focusing on the pre-requisite skills for reading, sitting still, following instructions and writing will give them a firm foundation on which to build. These skills will probably not come automatically and the children will need explicit teaching, modeling and much practice to develop them.

Classroom Strategies and Accommodations

Developing Phonological Awareness skills
  • Sing/say nursery rhymes/poems to develop the concept of rhyme
  • Play “I Spy” with first/last sound of words
  • Talk about rhyming words in big books/story books
  • Quiz students on the ‘odd one out’ eg “sun, sea, ring”, “hat, cat, lend”, & ask what makes the word different
  • Clap out the beats in words (syllables)
Improving short-term memory

  • Teach “Stop, look, listen” strategy in response to a cue e.g., teacher’s hand clap, before giving instructions
  • Teach memory strategies e.g., repetition, for learning the alphabet, counting, and similar tasks
  • Give one short, simple instruction at a time, have students repeat instruction aloud, then to themselves
  • Play memory games: I went to the supermarket and I bought… Jane had a birthday and she got…
  • Play ‘Simon Says’ to help with following instructions and direction eg., “2 steps forward and sit down”
Developing Speech and Language
  • Encourage speech with all activities
  • Teach students to pronounce words correctly
  • Talk about words, teach new meanings

Developing Fine Motor Skills

The following activities may be used to develop fine motor skills:

  • Cutting, tracing, mazes, tearing, crumpling, threading
  • Using clothes pegs, child size chopsticks and tweezers
  • Rolling clay, playdough
  • Construction activities eg, Duplo, octagons etc

Explicit Teaching Strategies and Accommodations

Developing handwriting skills
  • Teach and praise correct sitting position, book/paper position, pencil grip
  • Use a multisensory approach to teach correct letter formation
    • Teacher models correct formation on board and describes movements
    • Students watch and say sound
    • Students make shape in the air (sky writing), trace over large teacher example, practice letter in sand, use large crayons or Textas on newsprint, chalk on blackboard
  • Reduce size only when formation is automatic

Individual Support Accommodations

Developing phonic skills

Use a multi-sensory approach such as Jolly Phonics or Letterland

Developing written language
  • Provide sentence starters and brainstorm words on board to complete sentences (ensure students can read all of the words on the board)
  • Give 3 or 4 words to make a sentence eg, “I – pig – fat”, “dog - cat – big – garden”
  • Act as scribe
  • Let student copy one or two sentences from a book they can read
  • Photocopy sentences from a known reader. Student cuts into individual words, reassembles and copies
Developing reading skills
  • Choose phonics-based books with controlled vocabulary at appropriate level
  • Encourage students to read a little and often eg 10 minutes x 5/week
  • Read a page with the student and then ask them to practise it
  • Talk about the meaning
  • Label objects in the room, storage containers
  • Before reading to students, provide background so students can relate what they hear to something known
  • When reading to the class, read reflectively
    • Discuss word meanings, content, relevance to real life
    • Discuss characters, problems and events
    • Invite students to suggest solutions to the problem, what will happen next
    • Provide brief review before continuing reading
  • Teach visualisation skills (creating a mental movie) to help with comprehension and visual imagination (see ‘Visualising and Verbalising’ by Nanci Bell)
Encouraging confidence and self-esteem
  • Praise/reward achievements, however small
  • Spotlight strengths and interests
  • Give opportunities to shine in front of peers
  • Explain and remind how different people are good at different things

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