Clever Parent Moment!

Expanding upon therapy goals can be difficult for parents, and sometimes requires a bit of creativity! So for those of you who crave some guidance, I thought I might occasionally post examples of ways the parents of my clients have "run with" therapy activities in their home practice.

This week, I saw a young 4th grade boy who struggles with reading accuracy, spelling, syntax, and depth of writing. Writing for him is arduous and boring. We've been targeting specific phonics and spelling skills through use of his readers and workbooks, and have recently begun freewriting on personal topics, both in and outside of the therapy session, to stimulate flow of ideas and creativity (more on freewriting to come).

My student decided to write about his grandma for his first freewrite. For his homework, I asked his mom to set a timer for 5 minutes and allow her son to write freely (no worries about spelling, grammar, etc.) about his grandma. The next week, he read his paragraph to me, and we discussed some of his written thoughts. After some positive probing, he mentioned that he enjoys setting traps to catch chipmunks while at his grandma's house. Intriguing! As this was not mentioned in his paragraph, I asked that he do another freewrite on the specific topic of chipmunk trapping. I have continued to engage in this process with him, facilitating deeper and more detailed writing.

Chipmunk with a nut in mouth

Meanwhile, in his phonics work with me, we had begun working with long vowels and Silent-e syllables, combined with closed syllables, to form 2-syllable words (i.e. explode, concrete). We practiced reading word lists, sorting syllable types (closed vs. Silent-e), and spelling 2-syllable words with short vowels and broken vowel teams. We engaged in a bit of partnership writing using words from his reader, in which we took turns writing sentences and practiced sentence complexity/expansion. My student's mother always sits with us at the table, engages in the therapy activities, and makes note of what we do. I have explained to her that she can continue to practice with her son at home by repeating or expanding upon any of the things she sees me do in the therapy session.

This week, I had asked my student to expand upon a funny anecdote mentioned by his mother regarding the chipmunk trapping in his freewrite. His mom reported that this task was more difficult for him, as it tapped into the creative side of writing, less literal or reportive. So to continue practicing more imaginative writing, sentence expansion, and phonics work, his mother engaged in some partnership writing at home. They practiced reading words from his reader and copied some of them into his notebook. Then they took turns writing sentences using those words, but with a creative twist: each sentence was about the chipmunk topic!

While the sentences they created may not be usable in the developing chipmunk narrative, her writing activity expanded upon her son's therapy goals by combining original writing, syntax, and phonics work! And to top it all off, my student cracked a smile as he read me their silly sentences about chipmunks who "explode" on the "concrete"—the beginning of a love (or at least tolerance) for writing!

~ Moira

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