I have a unique challenge in my class this year. One of the oldest children in my class is also my smallest. This little cherub is being helped by a team of specialists. She is “selectively mute”, with about 13 words. To further complicate her learning she has motor planning delays and various sensory concerns.
I have never felt so inadequate. I want her to have a happy and successful experience. I want her to be a member of our class, not to be treated as a mascot. Because she is so small her classmates want to baby her. While to some this looks precious, to me it takes away her independence
I have pushed our Intermediate School System to service her. I welcome all suggestions, ask questions and even grumble to my principal. “She’s six, we don’t have time to waste.” In our rural district we don’t have many resources but I will push to see that she gets all I can muster.
As we made our Cat in the Hat projects earlier this week I struggled. I’m alone in a room with 17 other 5 year olds. She uses a special pair of scissors, I pretend to be an alligator, “chomp, chomp chomp, make your scissors eat the line”, each hand movement needs an encouragement. Those scissors are perfect for her small hand and weak grip, but gosh they sure take small snips. When her eyes begin to dart side to side I know she’s had her fill. I finish the cutting.
I ask her to touch where the glue will be placed. Hand over hand we apply the glue stick. The hat is on. Then I apply the glue and guide her hand to place the red stripes. “Push them down hard so the glue will stick!” We add a nose and whiskers. The glue on her fingers bothers her, but she seems to tolerate it for now. “Touch where you want your name.” I quickly write her name. I hold up the completed project. Her eyes dart to her name, “It says your name,” I acknowledge, noting her eye movement. “Whiskers” “Eyes” “Nose” “Hat” I touch and name. I try to squeeze language in to every moment. “Do you like it?” She nods and smiles. “Me too,” I smile.
I want her to have the same fun of making something developmentally appropriate. I want to increase her skills with scissors. I want her to have the pride of knowing she’s made something.
Let’s not even think about what the other 17 kids have been doing during this time!