Thursday, January 10, 2013

January Newsletter

Structured Routine Center
Primary Classroom
January Newsletter

Cold Weather

As we all push through cold and flu season, it is important to dress for the wet and cold weather.  So far our students are doing very well wearing their winter gear, but I know that sometimes overcoming sensory aversions to different weights and textures can be tough.  Something that we do every morning at school is “check the weather”.  We talk about whether its cloudy or sunny, hot or cold, etc.  Then we practice dressing for the appropriate weather using dynamic SMART board activities.  Deciding what type of jacket the character needs is a easy way to bridge what type of jacket we need to wear.  So if you run into trouble with dressing for cold weather, this might be a strategy to try!


Some of you have expressed a concern that you’ve seen your child engaging in some excessive oral stimulation lately.  We have noticed here at school as well that there have been a lot of students putting things in their mouths, gumming their hands, etc. 

Marcia Loggins, our Occupational Therapist, and I talked about this, and we think we are seeing what is generally typical behavior for students that are teething. 

According to the American Dental Association: “The first permanent molars usually erupt between ages 6 and 7 years. For that reason, they often are called the “six-year molars.”

They are among the “extra” permanent teeth in that they don’t replace an existing primary tooth. These important teeth sometimes are mistaken for primary teeth. However, they are permanent and must be cared for properly if they are to last throughout the child’s lifetime.”

Since our students may not express any pain or unusual sensations, it is up to us to figure out what might be going on based on the behaviors we see. So something to keep in mind if you see your child engaging in some of these behaviors, that it might be due to teething. If you would like some suggestions on oral motor toys and activities for home, please let me know.

Schedule Changes

As we discussed at Back-to-School night, Curriculum night and conferences, each student has one-on-one academic time with myself or a trained instructional assistant.  They also have sessions that are in very small group (usually 2 or 3-to-one) structured playtime, independent work time (supervised), and game time. This is of course in addition to larger group circles, playtimes, art, snack and sensory times.  Your child’s schedule has been the same each day for several months, with the exception of specialist time and special events. 
While the consistency and routine is important for our students, we also do not want them to become dependent on a specific adult for success, or to work with the same peer in the same area all year.
So at the natural break from school, we will be changing our schedule slightly.  We will be making accommodations for different student groups and changing groups where there might be a better fit.  In making the new schedule, I have tried to make changes that will transition as smoothly as possible, but there will most likely be a few bumps along the way. Please be mindful of this as your student readjusts to school this winter.
We will start our new schedule Monday, January 7.

Jessi’s Speech Corner
The many functions of communication

Greetings from the Speech Corner and Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a relaxing and joyful break, but are ready to head back into school and work with a new energy like I am!

I have talked about requesting in the past, but there are other important functions of communication and language that we work on in our classroom.  Two main functions that we work on are protesting and commenting.  Now you may be thinking, “my child definitely doesn’t need work on protesting!  I know when he doesn’t want something!”  But we work on teaching our students appropriate ways of protesting with phrases like, “No thank you,” "stop," or even just “no,” rather than throwing or yelling or crying. 

It is fairly easy to set up situations in your child’s life for him to protest something (e.g. put food on his plate that he doesn’t like, give him the wrong toy, put on the wrong movie, etc.) but you must be ready to focus on your child’s reaction and have time to help him work through his “usual” way of protesting and teach him a more appropriate way.  Always start by giving your child a model of the appropriate words you want to hear when he protests.  It is a tough thing to teach, but having your child understand that saying “no” will get something removed faster than crying and screaming can be a good lesson learned for both of you.

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

Have a great January! J

Marcia’s OT Edge
Sensory Processing

Some children are overly sensitive to certain stimuli within the environment.  This may cause the child to over react.  He or she may also appear to be fearful, overly excited, agitated, restless, hyperactive, or moody.  On the other hand, some children may under sensitive to certain stimuli.  This may result in a child who appears to be disengaged, not paying attention, lazy, or sleepy.  Some of these children seek out intense sensory experiences.  It is also possible to have a combination of responses depending on the type and intensity of sensory stimuli.

Sometimes problems arise with too much sensory stimulation coming in at once.  The child may feel bombarded with sensations, become upset or try to tune out by shutting down.  When there is too much information to sort out, some children may have difficulty knowing what is important to focus on and stimuli to filter out.  The goal is to get the child to that  “just right” emotional state.  At home and at school there are many strategies that are effective in getting to that “just right” state of mind.

Activities to get your child to the “just right” state of mind:
-       Gentle slow rocking in a rocking chair or hammock.
-       Compression “sandwich” that gives you a feeling of being hugged tightly.  Lay pillows or sofa cushions on top of the child while they lie down, press firmly but gently as you make the sandwich.
-       Wear compression clothing as clothing or under clothing (ie.  Under Armor) to provide consistent deep pressure.
-       Wrap up snuggly in a blanket or large beach towel.
-       Provide a comfort zone that may be a small tent, bean bag chair, or blanket covered fort under a table.
-       Mouth comforts:  sucking on a sports bottle, drinking though a straw, sweet tasting food that is relaxing.
-       Heavy work for the mouth is calming: chewing gum or chewing on a straw.
-       Heavy work for the body:  wear a heavy backpack, or carry a box filled with books or toys, push a vacuum cleaner push and pull toys and games, knead bread dough.
-       Squeeze a foam ball, clay, play dough, koosh ball.
If you have specific questions, please contact me at

Important Dates to Remember:

Winter Break Last Day     :           January 4
School Resumes               :           January 7
Holiday-No school           :           January 21
PTC Family Movie Night  :           January 25 6:30 pm

Thanks for all you do!

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