On weekdays we welcome our Tiny Talkers and Little Learners to spend the morning with us, and we’re excited to invite you in for a peek at what we do! Both small group, play-based programs are designed to prepare children for success in kindergarten.
Our Tiny Talkers are children with emerging language skills who benefit from a small group setting. For many, it’s their first experience in a group setting. “Kids with language and social challenges can get lost in a group,” says Erica Lord, the speech therapist who runs the program. Tiny Talkers starts, Erica says, by identifying each child’s strengths, drawing them out, and allowing them to shine within the group.
When it comes to helping our Tiny Talkers feel successful functioning in a group setting, the most important tool in Erica’s toolbox is routine. “When children know what to expect it frees them up to participate and sustain attention, because they don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen next.” Aside from a daily schedule, Tiny Talkers learn from social routines, like using the bathroom, participating in circle time, and setting up snack. The repetitive nature of routines, Erica says, helps them learn how to use language and sequence activities, which leads to the increased independence they need for school.
Our Little Learners also get support from occupational therapist Berta Campa, who uses a movement class to help them with regulation, impulse control, problem-solving with their bodies, and safety awareness. In order to be successful in school, Berta says, children need to be aware of their bodies and their surroundings so they can safely engage with others. To teach this, she started by playing music while the children moved through an obstacle course. Anytime a child broke a safety rule (not waiting their turn, jumping without warning the person in front of them, etc.) she stopped the music — a cue for the children to stop moving so they could go over the rules. “I used music as a regulatory tool,” she says. “Now we still listen to it, but I don’t have to stop it very often.” Berta also points out the important link between regulation and language learning: When the children can regulate their bodies, they can focus on using language to engage with the group.
A Peek Into Our Days
Visuals (like this homemade placemat to help children set the table at snack time) support sequencing, motor planning, grading movements, responsibility, ownership, anticipation for what is coming.
Another homemade visual to support children learning about healthy foods. Visuals like this also support language concepts like color, shape, size, category, etc.
Reinforcing our healthy foods theme and working on motor skills while painting with asparagus!
Pretend play with healthy foods.
Making dough was a fun sensory activity that involved following directions, sequencing, collaborating, and asking for help.
Sensory play with “turkey feathers”.
The most important thing about learning how to be a part of a group: Making friends!
If you’d like to know more about our Tiny Talkers and Little Learners groups, please get in touch.