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How to Use Visual Supports to Promote Structure, Routine and Transitions

first-then-board

First-then board used in therapy.

Many children require structure and routine within their day to help promote their ability to engage in daily activities, shift from one task to another and engage in learning. Visual supports can help promote and establish structure and routine in various environments including the home and school. Visual supports also allow children to anticipate what is expected of them. They help increase their ability to initiate and participate in daily activities and routines.

Try these visual supports at home or in school:

Visual Schedules: Visual schedules can be pictorial, written or both. You can display pictures representing each of the activities your child is expected to complete on a Velcro strip in sequential order. When each task is completed, your child can remove the picture from the Velcro strip and place it in an “all done” pocket of the visual or an “all done” container. You can also write the name of each task and/or draw a picture to represent the task on a dry erase board and have your child either cross off or erase each task upon its completion. Have your child engage and assist in the development of the visual schedule (e.g. assist in drawing the pictures that represent each task) and review the schedule prior to its use.

First-Then Boards: First-then boards encourage compliance and follow through for challenging and non-preferred tasks. You can place a picture of the less preferred task first with an arrow towards the more preferred task, to motive your child to engage in all activities.

countdown-board

Countdown board created by Sima.

Countdown Boards: Countdown boards allow your child to see how many times he or she has to complete a task. For example, if your child has to throw a ball 5 times, draw a circle 5 times, or place a puzzle piece 5 times and you can have him or her remove a number off the countdown board after each time the task is carried out.

These three visual supports can not only increase your child’s engagement in daily activities, but they can also make transitioning from one task or activity to another much smoother. They can be implemented in various environments and can easily be transported throughout the community.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Reading Skills By Grade (7-10)

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (7-10)

Ready, set, school! Wondering what reading skills your child should have by the end of their respective grade? Refer to the grade-by-grade guide below, based on the Illinois’ common core standards.

By the end of 7th grade your child should be able to:

Analyze how elements of a story interact Analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds on a verse or stanza Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure contributes to its meaning Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal with a historical portrayal of the same time period
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound Analyze how two authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information

By eighth grade your child should be able to:

Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development Analyze how a text makes connections and distinctions among and between individuals, ideas, or events
Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text Evaluate advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums to present a topic Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound Analyze two or more texts on the same topic that provide conflicting information

By ninth/tenth grade your child should be able to:

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences from the text Provide objective summaries of texts Analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text Analyze how the structure of a text, order of events, and manipulation of time create mystery, tension, or surprise
Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the US Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work Analyze seminal US documents of historical and literary significance

All standards have been reported from the Illinois State Board of Education. Additional standards are expected that have not been stated above. If you are concerned with your child’s reading skills, seek the guidance of a neuropsychologist who can help refer you to the appropriate support system.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reading Skills By Grade (4-6)

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (4-6)

The new school year is upon us! Do you wonder what reading skills your child should have by the end of his or her respective grade? Refer to the grade-by-grade guide below, based on the Illinois’ common core standards.

Reading Skills By Grade:

By Fourth Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in text describe a character, setting, or event in depth explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose compare and contrast points of view
read and comprehend stories, dramas, and poetry explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in historical, scientific, or technical texts determine meaning of academic and domain-specific words or phrases describe text structures (problem/solution, cause/effect, comparison, chronology)
interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively and use it to understand text integrate information from two texts in order to write or speak about the topic knowledgeably accurately read unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context or out of context read on-level text with purpose and understanding

By Fifth Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

quote accurately from text when explaining explicit information vs inferences compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events determine meanings of words and phrases, including figurative language explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fit together to provide an overall text structure
compare and contrast stories in the same genre determine two or more main ideas of a text, explain how they are supported by key details, and summarize the text draw on information from multiple print or digital sources to answer questions or solve problems efficiently read on-level with purpose and understanding

By Sixth Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through details describe how a story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes and how characters responds or change explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator compare and contrast experience of reading a story/drama/poem with listening to or viewing audio, video, or live version
analyze how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text determine meaning of words and phrases, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings integrate information presented in different media or formats and in words to develop understanding of a topic/issue read and comprehend literary nonfiction

All standards have been reported from the Illinois State Board of Education. Additional standards are expected that have not been stated above. If you are concerned with your child’s reading skills, seek the guidance of a neuropsychologist who can help refer you to the appropriate support system.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (K-3)

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (K-3)

Believe it or not, the new school year is almost here! Are you wondering what reading skills your child should have by the end of his respective grade? Refer to the grade-by-grade guide below, based on the Illinois’ common core standards.

A Grade by Grade Guide to Reading Skills:

In Kindergarten Your Child Should Be Able To:

retell familiar stories ask and answer questions about stories (with support) identify parts of a book (covers and title page) demonstrate understanding of features of print
recognize and name all upper and lower case letters recognize and produce rhyming words demonstrate letter-sound correspondence segment syllables
isolate and pronounce sounds in words read common high frequency words read emergent reader texts follow words left to right, top to bottom, page to page

In First Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

describe characters, settings, and main events in stories identify main topic and recall key details decode two syllable words ask and answer questions about text
explain major differences between books that tell stories and those that give information identify similarities and differences between two texts on the same topic recognize features of a sentence (capitalization, first word, ending punctuation) decode regularly spelled one-syllable words and irregularly spelled words

In Second Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

describe how characters respond to major events describe overall structure of a story compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story decode regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels
decode words with common prefixes and suffixes identify main idea of multiparagraph text read and comprehend informational texts determine meaning of words and phrases in an age-appropriate reading

 

In Third Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

retell stories, fables, folktales, and myths explain how details support the main idea distinguish literal from nonliteral language decode multisyllabic words
compare and contrast books in a series compare and contrast two texts on the same topic read and comprehend informational texts of different subject areas distinguish own point of view

All standards have been reported from the Illinois State Board of Education. Additional standards are expected that have not been stated above. If you are concerned with your child’s reading skills, seek the guidance of a neuropsychologist who can help refer you to the appropriate support system.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Tips for a Successful Summer Break

5 Tips for a Successful Summer Break

With summer right around the corner, now is the time to set your family up for success when the school doors close. Planning ahead can reduce stress, align expectations, and make sure that everyone’s needs are met so that summer can be pleasurable for all involved.

Here are 5 tips for a successful summer break:

  1. Gain knowledge of expectations. Set up a family meeting to determine what everyone’s5 Tips for a Successful Summer Break expectations are. To plan ahead can alleviate stress and frustration, but it is essential to make sure that everyone is on board with the summer structure. Have each child identify individual wants and needs. If the child is scheduled for day camp and that is not something that they “want to do” have them also come up with alternative ideas that would make their summer fun (i.e. going to Six Flags, going to the beach, etc.). Also, if the child views day camp as non-preferred, the parent can then share positives about going to camp (i.e. getting to swim, play with friends, engage in sports) to challenge previous negative thinking and facilitate smoother, morning time transitions.
  2. Establish Routines. Arrange for everyone to come together to determine daily structure in the home so that there are no surprises. Calling a family meeting can be helpful to debunk the child’s “lax” expectations for summer vacation and reinstate a more appropriate daily system. If the child wishes to do art all day, or swim, or sleep, the parent can work to structure these unstructured activities to create routine and clear boundaries.
  3. Research activities as a family. Allow your child to collaborate on what activities sound like fun for the family to engage in. Asking for your child’s ideas about weekend plans can help them feel empowered and demonstrate the art of compromise.
  4. Get outside. Summer presents a great opportunity to maximize play-based skills and physical activity. Encourage your child to be outside at least an hour a day to boost their mood, release energy, and provide alternative means for parent-child bonding.
  5. Maintain academic skills. Although summer is a fun time to engage in a plethora of recreational activities, it can also include some reality-based activities. When a child is out of school for several months, it is important that some academic tasks happen regularly to reduce risk for losing skills and to maintain gains. Identify a variety of subjects or tasks for the child to pick from and determine a set frequency of engaging in this activity (i.e. math workbook, reading, writing tasks, etc.).

FOR MORE SUMMER BLOGS, CHECK OUT OUR COMPLETE COLLECTION!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Household Chores for Children by Age

Children doing household choresWith school, holidays and less time to keep up with household chores, parents everywhere are looking for a few more helping hands to keep “home base” spick and span. Here is a brief overview of developmentally appropriate household chores:

Here is a brief overview of the developmental sequence of household chores:

Chores for a 13 month old:

Your child should begin to imitate you completing household chores. Pushing a pretend vacuum cleaner over the carpeting or helping you wipe up their craft table are excellent examples.

Chores for a 2 year old:

Your child should demonstrate the ability to pick up and put away their toys with verbal reminders (e.g. clean-up your puzzle before lunch).

Chores for a 3 year old:

Your child should be able to carry things without dropping them; dusting, drying dishes, and gardening. They should also be able to wipe up their spills.

Chores for a 4 year old:

Your child should be able to prepare dry cereal and snacks for themselves. They should also be able to help sort laundry before washing.

Chores for a 5 year old:

Your child should be able to put their toys away neatly, make a sandwich, take out the trash, make their bed, put dirty clothes in their hamper, and appropriately answer the telephone.

Chores for a 6 year old:

Your child should be able to help you with simple errands: complete household chores without redoing them, clean the sink, wash dishes with assistance, and cross the street safely.

Chores for a 7-9 year old:

Around 7-9 years of age, your child should begin to cook simple meals, put clean clothes away, hang up their clothes, manage small amounts of money, and use a telephone correctly.

Chores for a 10-12 year old:

Your child should have the ability to cook simple meals with supervision, complete simple household repairs with appropriate tools, begin doing laundry, set the table, wash dishes, and care for a family pet with reminders.

Chores for a 13-14 year old:

Your child should be able to independently do laundry and cook meals. By expecting your child to complete daily chores before moving onto their preferred activities, it is a wonderful way to prepare them for the demands of homework and other activities when they return to school.

Children of all ages can contribute to keeping up with housework. In addition to keeping your house clean, chores are also an excellent way to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility into your child’s daily routine. Your child could be responsible for one or two chores each day, or each week, depending on the time they have available. Create your own system for keeping track of the chores your child has completed (ex. sticker chart or a marble jar). Each time your child completes their chore, reward them with one token (ex. one sticker or one marble). When they reach 10 tokens, reward them with a bigger prize of their choosing (ex. an ice cream treat or a trip to the zoo). Be sure to verbally praise your child with each attempt at completing a chore and assist them as needed, especially while they work to complete a novel duty. Your verbal encouragement paired with the reward system will only help to motivate your child to take on more and more responsibility at home.

Fleming-Castaldy, R. P. (2009). National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam: Review and
Study Guide. Evanston, IL: International Educational Resources, Ltd.

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Making School Day Routines Easier with a Schedule

With school in session, it is important to solidify those morning, after school, and nighttime routines.  Using schedules provides predictability, encourages independence, and aids in transitions with your child.

Mother and daughter planning a schedule

Here are some quick tips to help make morning and nighttime routines easier with a schedule:

Types of Schedules:

A schedule can be created for any routine, such as bathroom, dressing, leaving for school, or after school routines.  For example, “Eat breakfast, brush teeth, and grab backpack” can be used for a morning routine, or “Eat snack, do homework, have 20 minutes of free time” could be used for an after school routine.

Location of the schedule:

Schedules should be placed where they are most accessible to your child.  If you are trying to promote independence while dressing, place a schedule on your child’s closet or dresser.  Bathroom schedules can be placed on a mirror, and morning/after school schedules can be placed on the refrigerator or door.

Using Pictures:

Pictures are great visuals for younger children or children who have difficulty understanding spoken language. Pictures can be drawn on a dry erase board or mirror, found on a computer (i.e., Google images), or cut out from a magazine.

Including your child:

Encouraging your child to help create his or her own schedule will increase comprehension and motivation for the responsibilities.  It is important to complete schedules before the routine begins.  For example, morning and after school schedules should be completed the night before.  Night schedules could be completed before dinner.  Your child should manipulate his or her schedule by moving pictures from the “to do” to the “all done” pile, or crossing off written tasks.

Flexibility:

Having some flexibility with your child’s schedule is okay, as long as the schedule is set before the routine begins and the arranged schedule is followed.  Rearranging the sequence of tasks, giving your child choices, and introducing new activities allow for flexibility within schedules.

Setting routines and implementing schedules should help make life a little easier.  If you have any suggestions that make your morning, afternoon, and nighttime routines easier, please share them below.

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The Benefits of Increasing Therapy Over the Summer

Summer is the time of the year when children engage in more free play and physical activity. Therefore, summer is the perfect time of the year to improve upon skills that children need in order to be active, successful, and independent children!Little girl jumping a rope

Here are some of the best reasons to consider starting therapy or increasing the number of therapy sessions for your child over the summer:

Maintain and improve skills for school – Since school is out for the summer, it is important that children do not lose the fine motor, problem-solving, planning, and organizational skills (and more) that are necessary to be productive students at school. Although summertime is a great time to provide opportunity for free play, it may create academic issues for your child once school starts back up if he or she does not engage in challenging tasks  during their 3 month break from school.

Practice physical activities, such as bike riding, climbing, and jumping rope – During the summer, children are often playing outside for hours on end. It may become noticeable that your child is not keeping up with their peers. Activities with which you may notice some difficulty are often when children have to coordinate their arms and legs, such as jumping jacks, climbing the jungle gym, and learning to ride a 2-wheeler. By participating in therapy over the summer, therapists can address these specific concerns in order to help your child stay up to speed with their friends while performing these activities.

More availability over the summer – Since your children are out of school for the summer, they may have a lot more time and availability during the day to participate in more therapy. Summer camp and extra-curricular activities often only take up part of the day, so there may be more times you are available to schedule therapy appointments. Furthermore, although camp and extra-curricular activities are great options for staying active, they do not necessarily offer the same therapeutic benefits as therapy.

Provides structure to their day– Oftentimes, summer can be a season of unstructured play time in which children can do anything they would like. Sometimes the choices are so overwhelming that this can often lead to hours of playing video games, watching TV, and other sedentary activities. Therapy can provide structure to your child’s day to make them feel like they are being productive by spending their time doing valuable tasks.

Opportunity for peer interaction outside of school – Once school is over for the summer, some children may only spend their time with the same friends every day. Therapy sessions can provide the opportunity to make more friends in the clinic and learn how to engage in social situations with other people.

These are just a few of the many benefits that therapy can provide to your child over the summer! By making your child more actively engaged in goal-directed activities, you are setting your child up to be productive students the following school year and active children during the summer!

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