One aspect of Bear's speech homework is sssound ssstimulation. Which involves sssubtly sssurrounding him with a sssertain sssound. It's quite fun!
I was given a little book of games, nursery rhymes and book lists for each of the sounds we want to target for Bear. They're a starting point but we're really only limited by our own creativity. We can play whatever games we like!
We choose a new sound each fortnight with the speech pathologist. Our first sound is 'sss'!
We play with trains:
signal, sign, stop, diesel, steam, piston, smoke, ambulance, siren, race car, bus, crossing, fast, whistle, street, city
We play Simon Says:
stand, sit, sleep, sing, stamp, salute, sigh, kiss, dress, saw, snuggle, splash, stumble, sneeze, smile, sweep
stir, sift, pass, slice, spoon, sauce, sink, stove, glass, soup, salt, salad, cereal, sandwich, spread, snack, lettuce, sip, spaghetti, scoop, cinnamon, sprinkles, hundreds and thousands, sausages, spatula, pasta
silently, whispering, sleeping, snore, soundly, surprise, softly, stumble, stepping, scare, startle
We play outside:
sand, sandpit, seesaw, slippery-dip, slide, sun, spade, snail, straw, secateurs, seed, sprout, scoop, spider, insect, fast, race, grass, swing and sing...
See saw Marjorie Daw
The insy winsy spider
... and we sing some more...
Sing a song of sixpence,
We work on speech on the days when I'm at home with the boys, which is 4 days per week. I try to pick 2 or 3 times during the day to focus on the sound. It has to be natural and spontaneous then it can be fun. For example if Bear chooses to sit and play with trains I join him and use as many sss words as I can naturally fit into our play. Giving the sss a little extra emphasis. I don't encourage Bear to copy or say the words himself. If he chooses to that's great!! Otherwise if Bear says a word incorrectly I repeat the word back to him in a sentence as part of conversation without directly correcting him (recasting).
We might only play like this for a few minutes at a time or longer if he's happy. We move on when one of us gets bored of the game or interested in something else. The rest of the day we speak normally.
Within this context of strong focus on sounds I have started to introduce sandpaper letters - starting with 's'. But I'll share more about that next time :)
I recently posted about Bear's newly recognised speech issues.
I've been thinking and researching a lot about how to progress from here.
As always time is precious and my ambitions tend to make me feel overwhelmed, frustrated and guilty. So I have started by thinking carefully through my goals.
I want Bear to know that he has valuable ideas that are worth expressing
I want to help him to communicate clearly to others
To teach Bear to say all the normal speech sounds
Tempting but not essential Goal:
Teaching bear to read and write following Montessori methods
This is what I've come up with:
1. Identify his strengths and weaknesses
- Bear can say these sounds: m, n, h, ng, w, d, y, b, a, e, i, o, u
- his language and vocabulary are good for his age
- he is patient with me when he is trying to communicate
- he is quick to learn new concepts and skills
- he is independent and tries to correct himself
- Bear can't say these sounds: p, t, g, k, f, l, sh, ch, s, z, j, r, v, th
- he refuses to undertake a challenge if he thinks he will fail
- he hates to be told what to do or how to do things
2. Proceed with modified Montessori games and activities
The sound games using sounds Bear can say (listed above)
Bear was struggling to play the sound game because there were so many sounds he wasn't recognising. It was too hard for him so he wasn't engaging with it. There are lots of sounds he does say and when I play using those sounds he succeeds much more often and engages much more successfully.
It takes a lot more careful planning to find objects that start with his sounds! I'm having to stretch my brain and hunt around the house for things like 'y' - 'ute', 'I' - 'Izzy', 'n' - 'knife', 'e' - 'aeroplane' or 'u' - 'undies'. It's so much more time consuming than taking a tray of something off the shelf and just getting starting.
I think it is worth the effort to keep playing. My hope is that by increasing his awareness of the sounds in words he will be better equipped to correct his own speech.
I bought the sandpaper letters a long time ago and I have been waiting patiently for Bear to succeed with the sound games before starting with them. It feels like that day might never come! So I am not going to wait until Bear has mastered the sound game. I am going to start gradually introducing sandpaper letters with sounds he knows or is working on. It makes a lot of sense to use the visual and motor aspect of the sandpaper letters to reinforce the sounds we are trying to call his attention to.
There are a lot of other less direct Montessori activities and material that sit in the domain of "language". There is also the sensorial materials which build a robust foundation for these complex skills. I am gradually trying to make these available for Bear as well. I'll post about them as I get to them because I think they are fascinating and lots of fun.
3. Work with the speech pathologist to increase his sounds
We're seeing the speech pathologist fortnightly for half-an-hour and working on homework between visits.
My important homework is to talk and listen to Bear and "recast" words that he says incorrectly. Recasting simply means using the incorrect word in conversation back to Bear as much as possible. For example:
Bear: Look at that big 'ain
Me: Wow that is a big train. It's a huge train. It's like your toy train at home.
We also practice saying a set list of words a set number of times a day. We play games with it - collecting buttons for each word, or looking at funny pictures of the words, a puzzle piece for a word... There is no right or wrong. I'm not supposed to correct him. The objective is exposure and practise. I can see the benefit of that regular time already. He is listening carefully and trying sounds out in ways he hasn't before.
I always have an alarm ringing in the back of my head saying: "don't make it tedious!", "keep it fun!", "watch him carefully!". I feel so nervous about pushing him too hard. I know if I push him too hard he'll flatly refuse to play at all!!
He is definitely in the sensitive period for language because he is participating so willingly. I am quite used to receiving a firm "NO!" from him - but thankfully that hasn't yet. He is actually asking me to play these games with him.
We hit a snag in Bear's reading/writing progress - a speech disorder.
I haven't blogged for a while because I completely lost confidence. Nothing seemed to be working out. We weren't making progress. I didn't understand what the problem was. Was it the method? Was it my application? A piece of the puzzle was missing...
The first clue:
We started playing the Montessori sound game a while ago. It seemed to be going well on level 1 - Bear was participating happily and seemed interested.
I would say "I'm holding something that starts with 'p'"
He would say "'ig".
"I'm holding something that starts with 'd'"
"something that starts with 'h'"
"something that starts with 'c'"
"something that starts with 't'"
We weren't able to move on to level 2. He wasn't saying the first sound of words. He didnt seem to realise the sound should be there.
So I abandoned the sound games all together. I thought that maybe it was too early for him. Or maybe I wasn't doing it the right way.
The second clue:
Bear has a little friend who has spoken perfectly from 18 months old. Her mum recently said to me: "Vicky P was doing the funniest thing... She's been speaking in this strange way and I couldn't figure why... Then I heard Bear and I realised she's been imitating him!!"
Hmmm... Is he speaking in such a strange way that she would think to copy him? He does speak in a funny way...
The third clue:
I was sitting at the table with the boys eating afternoon tea. Bear had brought a book to the table as he often does. He said to me conversationally:
"av ite on oe ee an ee"
To which I responded "pardon Bear?"
"av ite on oe ee an ee" He patiently replied.
"Sorry can you please say that again?"
"av ite on oe ee an ee."
"Sorry Bear. Again?"
"Av ITE on oe ee an EE"
"I'm sorry Bear. I'm trying to understand you. Can you please say it again?"
Frustration building "Av ITE ON oe ee an EE!"
Me: A look of apology and helplessness.
Bear: "Av ITE ON oe ee an EE!"
Me: A shrug
Bear: Pointing to the ceiling and almost bursting with frustration "Av ITE ON oe ee an EE!!"
Me: Finally understanding - "OOoohhh!!! Sorry Bear - 'Have the light on so we can see'!! I'll turn the light on for you right away!!"
This scenario was happening more and more as his vocabulary was expanding and his sentences were getting longer. I was struggling to understand him. He was struggling to be understood.
I arranged a speech assessment with a private speech pathologist and yes - he has errors that aren't developmentally normal. A second assessment with community health yielded the same result.
Bear hasn't realised that some sounds exist. He can hear them and understand them but he hasn't realised he can make them. He needs to make them to be understood. There are lots of sounds he is missing!
My judgement was right about the Montessori sound game. Bear isn't ready for Level 1 yet. He needs some extra preparation. He needs more help to become aware of the sounds he's neglecting.
I have a lot of work to do to help him.
We have a lot of appointments to attend.
We have a lot of songs to sing and lots of games to play!
I'm excited and relieved to be back on track. We know what the problem is and what we need to do about it. We have been given some beautiful homework that looks like so much fun. I can't wait to get started.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.