Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Continuing Fun...Crossing Midline



Week 9 and winter has well and truly set in...luckily the heat pump has been working overtime so Head Start has been the place to be!

Crossing Midline was this week's skill focus. Imagine you have drawn a line right down the middle of your body, Crossing Midline is the ability to reach across this line with arms or legs to cross them over to the other side. This is an important skill as it helps to strengthen dominance on one side, is needed for reading and writing and for many other daily activities. Children who have not developed this ability may tend to switch hands as they cross their midline or move themselves into a position so that they can do all their work on one side of the body - picture a child slouched at their desk with their paper turned sideways so that they can write up and down the page instead of from left to right! They may also have difficulty scanning across a page to read or have problems sitting cross-legged on the floor. Developing the ability to cross the midline not only helps with these skills but also helps to strengthen the core muscles as the trunk twists to reach across, this in turn helps with core stability which is crucial for control over fine motor tasks.

So, how did we practice Crossing Midline this week? Our little On Your Mark babies were given posting boxes in strategic positions to e
ncourage them to cross over midline and Mums were given rhymes with crossing over actions to do after nappy changes! Our Ready kids got busy fishing from a pond on one side and depositing them into the bucket on their other side.
They also had fun with scarves to encourage large arm movements in all directions.
For the Steady and Go kids there was bean bag tossing from the beam, reaching from one side and throwing to a box on the opposite side. They also practiced drawing long horizontal lines and Figure 8's and scanning story boards from left to right. All this amongst the organised chaos and laughter of the equipment circuit and boogie moves of the music segments!

Only two more fun-filled weeks left of Term 2, don't forget to check out our website for the Term 3 timetable and get in quick as spaces are filling FAST!! www.headstart.net.nz. Till next week - stay happy and healthy and keep moving (it will help warm you up!!).
x Lizz & the Head Start Team

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Visual Sequencing and Our Latest News


WOW what a week we have had! Firstly the Ultimate Playdate was an ULTIMATE success - thanks to everyone who came along and made it such a wonderful day out. It was fantastic to seeeveryone having such a great family outing. The Edgar Centre turned into a hive of activity as all the kids bounced, climbed, crawled, ran, biked and generally just had a GREAT time. We will be sure to let you all know when our next playdate is on the horizon.

Secondly, our Term 3 timetable has officially been released to the masses and is now available on our website (www.headsta
rt.net.nz). Be sure to get in quick as the spaces are filling fast already (Term 3 starts the first week of August).
An exciting development is the addition of our new classes called the Puku Playdate. These classes are for our littlest Head Starters from birth to when the time they start cruising/crawling. Puku Playdate will provide great opportunities for Mums and babies to
bond and socialise, learn tummy time exercises, strengthen Mummy's core and floor
after birth and participate in active movement right from the word go! This will also include a coffee date afterwards and guest speakers on baby-related topics...HOW EXCITING!
Also, due to popular demand we are adding a bunch of Saturday Head Start classes - check out the timetable to see which one will suit you best.

Right, now onto our Foundation Skill of the week. Week 8 at Head Start has been all about Visual Sequencing! This is the ability to see objects in a particular sequential order. Of course this covers the basic A,
B, C and 1, 2, 3 concepts but also can include sequential orders of events. It is important to practice this skill as it is crucial for learning to count and read and organising letters when learning to write! Personally, what I have learnt by looking in depth into this skill is that it is never to early to introduce visually sequential stimuli. This week has motivated me to get practicing with our littlie (18 months) and already she is counting 1, 2, 3...just shows that they are always capable of surprising us eh?! Her Daddy is super onto it too as he has been reading her name on her door to her every morning since day dot. I a
m sure this is why she recognises her name in print already!

Anyhoo, in class this week we set up story boards to set out in sequential order - this is a great one to do at home too. You could take pictures of your child throughout the day and then see whether they can organise the pictures into the correct order of their normal routine (eg. get up, have breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, go to kindy...etc). As our littlies grow this is also a great chance to discuss their daily activities, see if they can tell you what they did over the day in the right order. We also had a grab box full of
numbers, letter blocks and ducks to sequence into size order which proved a big hit...who knew shredded paper could provide so much entertainment!?! Remember that repetition is the key to success here and that there are ENDLESS opportunities to point out examples of visual sequencing. Magnetic letters and numbers are a great place to start and good for keeping little hands busy while dinner is being prepped!

So next week we have 'Crossing Midline' in store - another fun motor skill, so be sure to check in again! In the meantime stay happy and healthy and keep moving!!!
x Lizz & the Head Start Team

Ps. we have had some very cute bunnies in our class lately dancing to Mrs Bunny...so I have included a couple of pics to share the bunny-love!


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Auditory Analysis and Synthesis

Week 7 has whizzed past here at Head Start (hence it is Thursday already and I have only just got around to writing this blog!!) - we had an eventful week getting ready for our inaugural ULTIMATE PLAYDATE this weekend and also finalising and releasing our Term 3 timetable...more about all that later.

So what did we get up to in class this week? The focus was on another auditory set of skills, namely Auditory Analysis and Synthesis, sounds tricky right?! However, these skills are something that you will most likely be practicing in everyday life without actually realising it. Auditory Analysis is the ability to process noises and sounds to determine what they are or what they mean and Synthesis involves putting these sounds into context in order to understand what they are or blending noises together to make sense of them as a whole. SOoo all that time you spend saying "can you hear that noise? what is it" you are actually providing a valuable opportunity to practice these auditory skills. The more opportunity you provide you child to listen for sounds (especially unusual and new sounds) the better! When you littlie hears the lock turn in the front door and shouts out DADDY they have used their auditory skills to listen to a noise, process what it means and to put it into context to come to the realisation that Daddy must be home...cute, and educational.
So like I mentioned earlier this skills is largely about creating opportunity for your child to process sounds. In class this week we broke out all the musical instruments to practice our listening skills and discussed ways in which you can practice this at home. Such as going on 'auditory walks' where you see how many different sounds you can hear - how about getting your little one to close their eyes in their buggy and see what sounds they can recognise. This is also a great time to pull out all those noisy books to listen to farmyard sounds, different tractors/trucks etc. For the older ones how about breaking down larger words into their individual sounds and see if they can blend/synthesise the sounds together to work out what the whole word is! Remember, opportunity to learn from auditory cues is all around us all the time, it is just making the most of it!!

So I hope that you are all geared up to come to our Ultimate Playdate this weekend - 10.30-12noon at the Edgar Centre. We are bringing all our HS equipment and setting up an obstacle course, an under 2's area, a bike circuit and a bouncy castle. There will also be music and activities for everyone! We have released our Term 3 timetable to our current Head Start families this week and will be launching it to everyone else at our playdate on Sunday - another great reason to come check us out. The new timetable will also soon be available to view on our website www.headstart.net.nz

Hopefully we will see you all on SUNDAY!!! In the meantime have a wonderful week and tune back in next week to see what fun we have been having!
x Lizz & the Head Start team.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Double Trouble - Eye-Foot Coordination & Visual Completion

Whoops its week 6...did you all miss the blog last week?! Winter bugs well and truly attacked our household so I sadly missed out on week 5 at Head Start (BOO! Although Anna assures me her classes went brilliantly). Thankfully we are all happy and healthy again and I have had a fantastic day with my HS classes today. We made up for lost time and explored two new activity stations covering Eye-Foot Coordination and Visual Completion.

Visual Completion is the ability to see or touch a portion of an object and be able to visualise what the object is as a whole. For example, imagine a square with a triangle lying over top of it so that you can only see the four corners of the square, you would still understand that there was a square behind the triangle...that makes sense right?! For our littlies we can practice this skill by playing games like slow peekaboo, cover up an object that your child usually names easily and slowly pull back the cover to reveal portions of the object - see how much (or little) you can show before they tell you what it is. We extended this idea in class by using peekaboo windows over pictures of familiar things, for example a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine hidden with only a small window to see a portion of the picture - a fun concept to try at home with some of your favourite picture books! For the bigger kids we took these ideas of completion even further and started finishing partially drawn shapes on the white board...who knew join the dots could be so educational?!

Our next new concept was Eye-Foot Coordination - FUN. What a great excuse to practice kicking balls into our new soccer goal! This foundation skill is all about learning to control the movement of our feet in relation to what we see with our eyes. The possibilities are endless but a few of the ideas that we had today were kicking balloons on strings for the littlies, kicking balls down the ramp and into a goal for our runners, balancing on the beam and stomping on our jumping leap-frog. In our final balloon song we kept the theme going by seeing how many bubbles we could either catch on our feet or stomp out to pop them! Keep up the good work at home by setting up a goal to kick into (balloons are a good indoor option), make your own balance beam out of rugby socks and place some obstacles to step over along the path (make it wiggly if you want to get really tricky). Or how about getting creative with scarves, balancing them on a foot while standing on one leg or trying to pick one up just using toes (think like a monkey!) - you get the idea, remember to post any great ideas you have on our Facebook wall so all our Head Starters can benefit from your creativity!!!

Righto, that's it for this week. Have fun, stay well and tune back in next week for a run down on Auditory Synthesis and Analysis.
x Lizz & the Head Start Team