Monday, November 5, 2012

November Newsletter

Structured Routine Center
Primary Classroom
November Newsletter

Labeling Emotions
As we all know, kindergarten and first grade are big transition times for every child, and dealing with all the changes and new expectations can be stressful for any 6 year old. Since our students are also impacted by ASD, the struggle to communicate these concerns tends to compound the problem. 
Something that we stress in SRC Primary is the power of language. So when a student is exhibiting a behavior that demonstrates an obvious emotion, we encourage them to label that emotion. Pairing the use of that language (student saying “I’m sad/mad/etc.”) with an adult’s immediate response encourages the student to use those labels to gain attention in the future rather than relying solely on the behavior.
As your student settles into the program, labeling the emotions they feel is a powerful tool they’re practicing to express their wants and needs with adults. As they begin to see the power in their words, they’re more likely to use them.

Learning about nutrition

Here in the SRC Primary, we work with students on academics, social skills, fine motor skills, life skills and functional communication. And imbedded throughout our entire curriculum are thematic units that give students some insight into the world around them. Our monthly thematic units are designed to teach students about a concept that they will be exposed to naturally. This month we are focusing on food, which will likely be something they are exposed to more intensely with Thanksgiving, but is of course a facet in their daily lives. We are using “My Plate” by the USDA (which replaced My Pyramid) to talk about the basic food groups, and to suggest ratios of needed foods.  Students will learn basics about food groups (i.e. “we can eat lots of vegetables every day” or “grains give us energy”), as well as begin to label and sort types of foods. In the first grade, students begin to understand that they need at least one of each of these food groups on their tray at lunch every day. This exposure typically leads to increased tolerance to new foods, and some exploration of tastes and textures. Already this year our students have increased their food repertoire and explored foods that are different. Way to go!

Jessi’s Speech Corner
Fun with Technology

Greetings from the Speech Corner!  This month, I am talking about technology. What we do in the classroom, the possibilities at home, and how to incorporate communication into those experiences.

I hope you are all aware that we have a SMART board in our classroom and that we use it ALL THE TIME!  If you came on Curriculum Night, you were able to see it in action and even use it a little bit.  If you weren’t able to come, and don’t know what it is, here is a picture.

The SMART board allows us to do interactive activities in circle time on any topic imaginable.  We target social skills, reading, math, categories, predicting, sequencing, functional routines, and so much more.

Also, in Speech this year, my students have access to an iPad!  The functional and motivational aspects of this device are more numerous than I can relate in a little corner of this newsletter.  If you are interested in the apps that I use in speech, please let me know!

I think the bottom line is that your child is a “digital native” (yes, that really is a term!), and he will have to interact with technology for the rest of his life.  Let’s use this knowledge and motivation to increase comfort and reinforce communication!

If you ever have questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email me at

Have a great November! J

Marcia’s OT Edge
Pencil Grasp

Now that we have focused on hand dominance, the next step towards real skill development is pencil/crayon grasp.  Using a correct or mature pencil grip allows for efficiency while writing or drawing and enables your child to write neatly and a reasonable speed without tiring.  The tripod fingers (thumb, middle, and index fingers) work together separate from the rest of the hand to control the pencil and write small and neat.  By stabilizing for resting the side of the hand on the table while writing or drawing, the fingers holding the pencil develop the ability to move smoothly in and out for a fluid flow while writing.  Your child needs to move through various stages of pencil grasp development before a mature 3-finger pencil grip will develop.  Normal stages of grasp include:

1-2 years-  Gross grasp- whole hand wrapped around the pencil or crayon, using the whole arm to move the pencil.
2-3 years-  Pronated pencil grasp-  hold the pencil with your fingers pointing towards the paper, still using the whole arm to color or write.
3-4 years-  Tripod grasp-  hold the pencil with 3 fingers, pinched between the thumb and index finger, and resting on the middle finger.

The staff in the classroom are working with the O.T. to encourage the correct level of development in pencil grasp, and may choose to use an adapted pencil grip to assist in encourage the correct finger position or use a simple statement of “fingers only”. 

The best way for families to help encourage the appropriate pencil grasp to participate in a variety of hand strengthening activities and finger exercises including playing with play dough, using tongs to pick up small toys, playing with pegs or putting coins in a slot, practice cutting, help in the kitchen with stirring and rolling out dough, or crumbling up paper in your palm for example.

Important Dates to Remember:

Picture re-take day                                          :           November 6th
Staff Development-No School                        :           November 9th
Veteran’s Day Holiday-No School                  :           November 12th
Family Dance                                                    :           November 16th (6:30 pm)
Budget Reduction Day-No School                 :           November 21st
Thanksgiving Holiday-No School                     :           November 22nd-23rd
PTC Holiday Bazaar                                          :           November 30th

Grading Day-No School                                  :           December 3rd
Progress Notes go home                                 :           December 7th
Barnes and Noble Book Fair                            :           December 7th (4-8 pm)
            (Tanasbourne Store)
Budget Reduction Day-No School                 :           December 10th
Winter Party                                                       :           December 20th
Winter Break-No School                                   :           December 21st-January 4th

I am SO proud at all our growth over the last 2 months at school! I am looking forward to many new adventures as we explore fall, and our new thematic unit: Food!

Thanks for all you do!

Ashlee Yokom
Primary Classroom Teacher
Structured Routine Center
Sexton Mountain Elementary
(503) 672 3560