Speech Therapy Needed?, Care for the Caregiver-Teachers Unplug!, Math Interest Center

Welcome to the fifth issue of the Preschool Plan-It Primer, a free monthly newsletter from Preschool Plan-It!

My hope is that you find information in each newsletter that is helpful to you- the Early Childhood Educator- as you work with this wonderful group called Preschoolers!

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June 2011, Issue # 5

In This Issue:

Speech Therapy Needed?

Tips & Timesavers: Care for the Caregiver-Teachers Unplug!

Interest Center Focus: Math Interest Center

What’s New? Search It, Find It, Plan It!

Speech Therapy Needed?

It seems there are more and more children in speech therapy before kindergarten each year. Parents are hyper-sensitive to how their children speak and how "well" they compare in speech issues as other children they know of the same age.

As teachers, we need to remind them that, as with other areas of development, each child progresses in their speech and language at different rates. It is very common to say "Otay" instead of "Okay" or "tefelone" instead of "telephone" in the preschool years. Many three year old children will say "Him goed to beach". It may progress to "Him go to beach" or "He goed to the beach".

Correct use of pronouns (personal and proper) as well as verb tenses are part of their preschool speech and language growth and development. It is when a pattern of usage that it out of the developmental norm can be seen in their speech or language that a red flag goes should be raised by teachers.

As teachers, we are called on by parents to answer some questions that are not easily answered. When asked if we think their child has a speech problem or a language problem, we need to be very careful about how we answer.

If we answer yes, we have just labeled that child and the parent assumes we are correct because we are, after all, the expert when it comes to children.

Now, don’t lose it over my next statement, it is blunt but true: we need to remember that we are NOT the experts in speech and language (unless, of course, you have your degree in speech and language pathology!). We should NOT be telling parents that we feel their child has a speech problem or a language problem. Once we say that to a parent their child has been "diagnosed by an expert".

A speech disorder refers to a problem with the production of sounds. A language disorder refers to having difficulty either understanding or putting words together to communicate thoughts or ideas.

The child’s issue, many times, is not simply a speech or language disorder. A child may have one of many number of other things going on that are affecting them and the issues you see in their speech and language may actually be a symptom of this other issue.

A child with speech issues may have a hearing or inner ear problem that has not been detected yet.

The child with language issues may have sensory/sensory integration issues or they may simply speak a different language at home and their "problem" is learning of a new language.

As preschool teachers, we have training and experience that lets us know when children do not appear to be developing within the typical stages.

Our role is to know what the developmental norms are for speech and language acquisition (as well as other areas of growth and development) for the ages of children that we care for.

The best and most appropriate steps we can take are to be sure that we handle developmental concerns in a professional manner and within limits of are training with families.

For four steps to take when you suspect a speech or language issue, go to the

Speech Therapy Page by clicking HERE

TIPS and TIMESAVERS: Care for the Caregiver: Teachers Unplug!

Summer is coming! Really, it is! Many teachers work in programs which close for the summer months. Many of you work in a center that runs year long.

Regardless of the program, summer is the time for you to unplug and recharge, both in your classroom (if you teach during the summer) and, especially, at home.

The school year can be pretty intense with all the programs for family days, Christmas programming, Art Shows, Open Houses, Field Trips, etc.

If you teach during the summer, you will still need to write curriculum and plans but, for most, this is a time to investigate and explore those themes and activities that can only happen in the summer!

You will still need to have a consistent schedule for your preschoolers but, for the most part, your room will have a more layed back, camp type feel.

What about at home---for YOU? As one who cares for children with passion and concern, you most likely forget to care for yourself! This can be the main reason many early childhood professionals burn out. Don’t let that happen to you!

This summer, commit to planning some events that are just for you! Are there hobbies or activities that you enjoy but put aside during the school year? Make it a point to focus on one or several of them!

For example, when is the last time you read a book or magazine that was not focused on children, early childhood or curriculum planning?

Perhaps you enjoy crocheting, knitting, jewelry making, bowling, gardening, just hanging out with friends and family, etc. For me, I love walking and especially taking my dog for walks.

However, I get so caught up in the administrative piece of the preschool when I get home that I’m still on preschool mode and my dog’s walk with me happens after dinner rather than late afternoon.

I now use that walk as a way to leave preschool mode! And Cammy, our adorable Corgi, KNOWS that it is walk time. He’s waiting at the door when I get home, very excited to go on his daily jaunt! It is a great way for me to leave that “preschool mode” and be Cheryl again instead of Miss Cheryl!

So, what’s your thing? You decide what it is that you have not done enough of that you enjoy this past school year.

The steps you can take to plan personal un-plug time for you can be found it Preschool Plan-It’s Motto: Search it, Find it, Plan it! Here’s how:

1. Search it!

Choose the hobby or activity you want to do more of.

2. Find it!

Find out when that event or activity can happen. For example, is there a book club that meets on specific days or evenings? A summer bowling league that is just forming? A How-To class starting on something you want to learn how to do?

3. Plan it!

Make the phone call and plan it! Sign up for that class or book club! Book a weekly night with friends or bi-monthly cookout.

Follow through is key. Do not let “writing those lesson plans” become the reason you do not do something for yourself. You need to find a balance!

INTEREST CENTER FOCUS: The Preschool Math Activities Center

What is a Math Interest Center?

Typically it is a table that is used for other activities as well. Many times, your snack table may be used as your table for preschool math activities before snack time. Some programs have a Math Center that is always and only a math center.

Most centers have what is called a Math and Manipulatives Center or Fine Motor Table and not necessarily a separate Math Center. The same is true in our classroom.

The most common items for this center are....ANYTHING that can be counted! Your imagination will be the only limit to introducing math concepts to your preschoolers! As with any material, keep your children's ages and your state regulations in mind when introducing items for math. Some items can be what are referred to as "chokeables".

Some states specifically outline the size of items that cannot be used with certain age groups. Even if your students are "old enough" to use materials based on the regulations, you still need to keep your individual children in mind.

If you have one that is still very oral and everything from their snack to their clothing to their name tag finds its way into their mouth, many math activities will need to be directly supervised in your classroom, but not avoided!

Placement of your preschool Math Activities center should be decided based on how much room the children will need to use the materials comfortably.

Board games such as Candyland or Hi-Ho Cherry-O may not work well on the floor where other children can walk through the game!

The floor may also not work well for counting items that could roll across the floor and cause someone else to slip on the materials. I recommend using a table for safety and for comfort!

This center tends to be quieter than perhaps your science center but not as quiet as your library area. Therefore, best placement might be on or near your Art Center where conversation and interactions are also happening and not near the more active areas such as the Block Area or Dramatic Play area.

For more information on how and where to set up Interest Centers in your classroom, go to the Classroom Design Page on my website BY CLICKING HERE

What do children learn when using the materials at the Preschool Math Activities Center?

Activities in the Math Interest Center help children:

Develop small motor control and eye-hand coordination as they manipulate the materials

Develop one-to-one correspondence as they use board game pieces or sort and count materials.

Develop problem solving skills as they determine or learn rules to games and sharing materials.

Turn rote counting skills into counting items or sets of items Identify numbers

Relate written numerals with actual items (learning sets)

How should the teacher prepare for preschool Math Activities in this Interest Center?

Preparing for preschool math activities should be done in advance. Although you can simply go to your materials area, closet or storage area and pull items off the shelf that your children will enjoy, planning the concepts you want to cover with the children will help you to meet math preschool goals.

If you are working on number recognition, choose puzzles and games that use numbers; activities that require the use of number dice, etc.

If you are working on one-to-one-correspondence up to 6 this month, you don't want to choose a game that will only require the children to move their counter 3 spaces.

Although your preschoolers will typically enjoy most board games that are newly introduced, this will not help them to improve their one-to-one correspondence as you have planned.

You can also prepare your children for using these items for the goal you have planned for them by introducing the materials at circle time.

For example: You want the children to work on recognizing numbers and placing a specific number of items with its corresponding numeral. Show them the materials at circle time or morning meeting time and demonstrate how to do this.

Keep in mind that children are at different levels of cognitive knowledge. Although you have introduced counting one dinosaur into the "1" cup and four dinosaurs into the "4" cup, you will still find children using them in different ways at the preschool math activities center! They may line them up, sort them by type or act out a prehistoric egg stealing event!

Many children need to be able to freely explore materials that are introduced before using them for a specific purpose. Once they have had the chance to explore the materials in their own way, introduce the concept one on one with the child.

For example, you could try saying something like "OH NO! Here comes T-Rex! Let's get all the other dinosaurs home. Look! A number "1" house! Which dinosaur could live here? A number "2" house! Quick, let's put 2 dinosaurs in here!." Etc.

Themed Materials

Choose the materials to be used in the Preschool Math Activities Interest Center based on the concepts you are working on with your children (counting, number recognition, sorting) or the Theme you are working on (Dinosaurs, etc.).

Below is the link to my THEMES page. Under each theme, you will find a selection of my favorite math and manipulative activities for each theme!


For more information and ideas for the Math Interest Center, go to my Preschool Math Activities Page


WHAT’S NEW? Search It, Find It, Plan It at www.Preschool-Plan-It.com !

The following pages were added to the website during the past month:


Camping Theme Page

Fathers Day Activities Theme Page

Ocean Life Theme Page


Math Interest Center Page

Speech and Language Page

Comments? Ideas for future newsletters? Feedback? This newsletter is written FOR you, so I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell me what you think!

Until Next Month,