Here in Northern Virginia, we had a string of snow days a few weeks ago that kept us inside and our kids home from school. Not being one from letting something like a day home from school stop learning, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to incorporate other children into my work with Joey. In the classroom, I’ve found that so many of the routine, repetitive practices like the daily calendar lessons are powerful because children learn from their peers. Typically, Joey is not able to benefit from peer models during our one on one sessions, but Monday, with schools closed and the roads perfectly fine, it seemed like a good time to play school at Joey’s house.
I brought my kindergarten daughter along for my session, and Joey’s older brother, who is also in kindergarten, joined us. The two older kids seemed unsure at first, but being professional kindergarten students who both participate in a morning meeting and calendar time every day at school, they quickly figured out their roles.
Joey was an excited participant in this experiment. He grinned as we went through his typical calendar routine. As we counted the dates on the calendar, Joey counted along with us, making a verbal utterance for each number, and occasionally glancing at the two older kids who were counting along.
Of course, our new eager classmates were quick to provide answers that Joey typically is given wait-time for, but this gave him an opportunity to see other kids answering the same questions he answers every day. It gave his work authenticity, and made it social and interactive.
We were able to do a morning meeting with a greeting where they gave each other high five’s, our calendar math work with number recognition and patterning, and then read two of our interactive books. Although Joey was quieter during this session than he typically is, he was alert and aware of what was going on, and did not use the device to tell me he was bored of lead me off topic by telling me a story about helicopters, airplanes, or spiders.
When we read Seals on the Bus, which is currently one of Joey’s favorite books, he was able to watch his brother and my daughter act out parts of the story. So far, Joey has not fully embraced symbolic play during our sessions. During this session, he was able to watch the two older children become silly and act out the story. As they laughed at the silly things they made the people on the bus do, he smiled. I’m hoping that watching them enjoy symbolic play with objects will help him begin to engage in symbolic play.
Our mini-class was so much fun that now I’m hoping for more days of closed school with good road conditions so we can repeat it this winter.