Kindergarten is a big step in every child’s life. It’s exciting and possibly the first real experience a child has in a classroom setting. With the new school year fast approaching, many parents may be wondering if their child is ready and how they can help their child be successful in their first year.
Below is a checklist of skills your child should have or should be working on as they enter kindergarten...
What your child should understand:
• Understands ordinal words such as, “first, next, and last”
• Understands time concepts such as, “yesterday, today, and tomorrow”
• Understands spatial concepts such as, “under, in back of, next to, in front of”
• Follows 2-3 step directions in the correct order with qualitative concepts such as, “Pick up your pencil and draw a circle on your paper around something you drink
• Understands most of what is said at home and outside environments
• Recognizes 8 basic colors and shapes
• Recognizes first and last name
• Recognizes some letters
• Sits still and listens to a story
• Pretends to read a book
• Good attendance
Speech and language your child should use:
• Says all speech sounds in words, although it’s okay if mistakes are made on later developing sounds such as L, R, CH, SH, TH
• Says alphabet
• Says days of the week
• Says or shows age
• Sings songs or nursery rhymes
• Counts to at least 10
• Names some letters, numbers and colors
• Uses pronouns such as, “I, me, you, mine, yours, he, she, him, her”
• Answers simple WH questions such as, what, where, when, who, why
• Uses sentences with action words such as, “jump, play” and “get"
• Tells a short story
• Keeps a conversation going
• Talks in different ways depending on the listener and place, such as speaking in shorter sentences to younger children or talking louder outside than inside
Let’s set our kids up for success! If you have any questions or need any suggestions, please reach out to your OTG SLPs.
By: Oceanside Therapy Group's Speech/Language Department
“Four to Five Years.” ASHA, http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/45/. Accessed
25 July 2017.
Parents often want to know at what age they should be encouraging their child to grasp the pencil correctly. While it is important to facilitate the development of a functional pencil grip, it is crucial to understand the normal development of a pencil grip to avoid forcing your child to use a grasp he or she may not be ready for.
Typically, the development of a pencil grip in young children follows this predictable course:
An efficient and functional pencil grip is one that allows the child to write neatly in a timely manner without fatiguing the hand muscles. Poor pencil grasps engage the incorrect hand muscles, leading the child to fatigue quickly and produce messy handwriting.
How Occupational Therapy Works on Pencil Grasp Development
Occupational therapists facilitate the development of a functional pencil grasp through the use of various therapeutic activities and exercises. Sometimes the use of an adapted grip is implemented to facilitate a functional tripod grasp. There are many grips to choose from so please consult with your child's occupational therapist on this matter.
Activities that facilitate the development of a tripod pencil grasp...
-Coloring with small or broken crayons is a great activity as it facilitates the use of the thumb, the index, and middle finger as there is limited space for the other fingers to come and join the party
-Coloring on a slanted surface - this promotes the wrist to extend backwards, which facilitates controlling the writing tool with the finger joints instead of using the entire hand
Manipulating Theraputty or Play-Doh is a good activity to strengthen those hand muscles needed for sustaining a pencil grip during writing activities. You can hide beads in Theraputty and have your child find them. Other ideas include:
-Attach clothespins to the brim of a cup
-Operate trigger spray bottles
Fine Motor Control and Finger Isolation
-Play Lite Bright
-Roll 1/4 inch balls of clay or theraputty between the tips of the thumb, index, and middle fingers
-Pick up small objects (pom poms, pegs, cheerios) with a tweezer or tong
As a child's postural control and shoulder strength improves, the child's ability to control the pencil with the fingers will begin to emerge.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact your occupational therapist.
Written By: Nalleli Reyes, MS, OTR/L for Oceanside Therapy Group
Case-Smith, O (2010). Occupational therapy for children. Missouri: Mosby Elsevier.
Fleming-Castaldy, R. P. (2014). National occupational therapy certification exam: Review & study guide. Evanston, IL: TherapyEd.
Core Muscle Strengthening
On a day-to-day basis, whether our children are at school, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy we are told that they need to “strengthen their core.” But what are core muscles? How do we strengthen them? Why do some children “W” sit? What can we do to help?
What are core muscles?
Core muscles are a group of muscles in your stomach, back, pelvis, and trunk that help provide stability and create movement. When these muscles are not working properly they can cause back pain, decrease balance, cause difficulty with coordination and poor posture.
The muscles of the core are as follows...
-Pelvic Floor Muscles
All of these muscles work together to compress the abdomen, provide trunk rotation and movement, and help create upright posture and support your spine. These muscles help provide your child with stability, balance, body awareness, and the ability to move around in space, which impacts bilateral coordination, stair climbing, balance, navigating obstacles, and upright sitting and standing, and more!
How can I tell if my child has a weak core?
A weak core can have effects that trickle down to many other developmental skills from balance to posture to pencil grip and more.
Signs of a Weak Core
-Sitting: slumping, fidgeting, leaning on one hand, difficulty with fine motor tasks, W-sitting.
-Transitions: difficulty rolling, crawling, moving from lying down to sitting, and moving from sitting to standing.
-Balance: Difficulty with balance and unsupported sitting, frequent falls, and difficulty with one leg standing.
-Coordination: Difficulty running, performing jumping jacks, crossing midline, and ball skills.
Why is W-sitting bad?
W-sitting is when a child sits on their bottom with their knees bent and feet positioned outside of their hips and this makes a "W" shape.
When W-sitting is a child’s go-to sitting position they are at risk for...
-Lack of cross body movements
-No hand preference
-Increased muscle tightness
-Limited core strengthening
What can I do to help my child’s core strength?
There are many ways to help children of any age strengthen their core muscles.
-No W-Sitting: Make sure that your child is not sitting in W-sitting position and correct with “fix your feet”. Sitting on the floor in long sit, side sit, or legs crossed sitting helps increase core strength and improve trunk mobility.
-Play Time: Encourage your child to play in unstructured, spontaneous play where they are running, climbing, lifting, rolling, pushing, pulling, moving, and engaging in whole body movements.
-Planks: Have your child get into a push up position and hold. Make sure that their body is making a straight line from head to toe. Encourage by having a contest with family members!
-Bridges: Have your child lie on their back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Have them suck their belly button into their spine and push through their feet to raise their bottom up off the floor. Encourage by rolling a ball or cars under the bridge.
-Super Hero: Have your child lie on their stomach on the floor and try to lift their arms, upper chest, and legs off the floor like they are a flying super hero.
-Wheelbarrow Walks: Hold your child’s feet and legs and have them walk forward on their hands towards a target. Try to have a relay race with friends!
For more ideas about core strengthening at home or with any questions about core strength or W-sitting, make sure to talk with a physical therapist!
Written by: "KC" Karen Albiston, PT, DPT for Oceanside Therapy Group
Drobnjak, L., Heffron, C. (2015). The Core Strengthening Handbook. The Inspired Treehouse, LLC.
What Is W-Sitting? (Copyright © Pathways.org) Pathways.org. Retrieved June 2, 2017 from https://pathways.org/blog/what-is-w-sitting/
Core Exercises: Guidelines and Examples. (Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics). Healthychildren.org. Retrieved June 2, 2017 from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Core-Exercises-Guidelines-and-Examples.aspx
Read more information about possible concerns you may be having with your child's language development at The Hanen Centre website. Learn when to seek help and why taking action early is so important. Additional resources are available through their site as well.