Articles in this issue:
It's been a busy summer for the International Adoption Health Program. We've been reflecting on last year's event series, and deciding on the topics and speakers that will be great for our adoption families in the months to come.
Last year, we surveyed our families to better understand what programming you were hoping to see. Using those results, we planned events for Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. This is our first newsletter since the completion of the spring events, and so it is with gratitude and thanks to our amazing speakers, that I can summarize our series, Talking About Your Child’s Adoption Story.
Through these events, more than 200 participants explored sensitive topics in supportive, welcoming venues surrounded by qualified speakers and fellow adoptive parents. We know many of you hoped to attend some of the events but were unable. Stay tuned for several pending publications that include content and key points from these events.
We want to thank our student volunteers, Alyssa, Kate, Kaitlyn and Tressa, and of course, my cohort in weekend programming activities, Stephanie Drabble, LMSW. We could not have run these events without each of you!
Join other parents and waiting parents on Saturday, Sept. 14 as The Sparrow Fund partners with Attachment and Bonding Center of Pennslyvania for “Adopted” Isn’t a 4-Letter Word. Cheryl Nitz, ACSW, LCSW will address the challenges we face both internally and externally as we talk to our kids about their stories. Learn more and register for the event.
It’s time to go back to school! For many parents and children, September ushers in an exciting time of new academic and social adventures. For others, the back to school season may come with dismay and worry. Children adopted internationally and through foster care are at a higher risk for learning and communication challenges which can lead to feelings of unrest.
These feelings may play out in children through:
Olivia Cosden, CCC, SLP, speech-language pathologist and great supporter of our program, presented last year on early literacy and communication challenges after adoption. Olivia has put together some fun, simple activities to help your child learn the concepts, vocabulary and literacy skills needed for starting school this fall.
Emphasize concepts when talking to your child. Before entering kindergarten, children are expected to understand many concepts, including size, temperature, location, function and sequence. You can help your child learn these concepts, by talking about what you are doing during every day activities, like going to the grocery store. For example, “this tomato is big, this tomato is little,” “put the tomatoes in the cart,” “ooh this ice cream is cold!”
Expand on what your child says. When your child makes a comment, add a few words to what he says to help expand his sentence length. For example, if your child says, “Look, a cat,” you can expand by saying, “The cat is walking! That cat has a really long tail!”
Practice following directions. Following directions is a skill needed to participate in classroom activities. Start by giving your child simple directions such as, “Get your cup.” Once your child can follow one step directions without help, add an additional step. For example, “get your cup and put it on the table.” Help your child understand directions by pointing and providing repetition. Some children benefit from picture cues such as a visual schedule. Create a visual schedule by taking pictures of your child performing daily activities such as brushing teeth, eating breakfast, etc. and display the pictures in the order each activity happens. Point to the pictures as you give your child directions. Use words such as “first” and “then” to emphasize sequential concepts. For example, “First brush your teeth, then get your pajamas on.”
Expose your child to written words. Help your child become familiar with letters and words by putting written labels on toys, food and other objects that your child enjoys. Engage your child in fun activities with letters; make the first letter of his name out of PLAY-DOH or write letters in shaving cream with your finger.
Read, read, read! Reading to your child will help her develop literacy and language skills. Read your child’s favorite book over and over again. Allow her to “fill in” familiar phrases. Ask your child questions about the characters feelings or the pictures in the book while reading. Have your child guess what will happen next when reading a new story.
Look at pictures. Look at the pictures in story books rather than reading the words. Have your child make up his own story based on the pictures. Talk about how your child’s story is different from the actual story.
Get creative! Reenact stories or fairy tales with your child. Try to incorporate as many costumes and props as you can. Talk about what happens in the beginning, middle and end of the story. This will help your child learn to retell and create stories, an important skill for school.
Label emotions. Labeling how your child is feeling will help him better communicate emotions. If your child is upset, provide an example of how he can express himelf verbally. For example, “You’re mad. You’re mad because you don’t want to leave yet.”
Encourage socialization. Provide your child with opportunities to interact with children of a similar age. Enroll her in group activities such as sports, music classes, art classes, etc. Encourage play dates with other children with similar interests.
Practice turn-taking. Children may need some help taking turns with their peers. Help your child learn about turn taking while playing simple games such as building with blocks or playing catch. For example, “It’s Sarah’s turn to put the block on.” Make sure to praise them for taking turns during structured activities and in free play. For example, “I saw you let Joey play with your truck, great job sharing!”
You don’t have to go out of your way to provide language-rich experiences for your child. By engaging with your child in activities that happen every day you will help her learn all while having fun! Have a wonderful 2013-2014 school year!
Summer is winding down, and fall will be here soon. But there are still a few weeks of warm weather to check things off your summer bucket list. Have you done these family activities?
Cuddle time can do wonders. Snuggling up with your little ones helps you feel more connected to each other, improves your child's willingness to cooperate, and eases difficult transition times.
Try finding 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes mid-day (or after work!), and 10 minutes before bedtime to sit and snuggle. Hard to find 10 minutes? There are some fun ways to build this into your day.