Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Check Lists for Kids

When it comes to getting yourself ready for something smoothly and at a reasonable time, such as getting out of the house each morning, or getting yourself to bed, how would you rate yourself as successful on a scale of easy to hard?  

  •  Do you have a specific order of tasks that you do before reaching your destination whether it be school or your bed? 
  • Is one task harder than others?  
  • Are there any obstacles that get in your way, like for instance, being distracted by squirrels or other shiny objects or struggles in trying to trick your mind into thinking that you are a morning person? 
  • Are you scrambling to make it or is it all smooth sailing? 
  • Do you have other people in your little community tapping on your shoulder every few minutes or is everyone in the house using a forte or fortissimo volume to communicate needs that get a bit in your way?

Me These Days
Maybe the question is too vague and answers might vary as far as what you are getting ready for.  For me, since my third child, I feel like I am often in why-do-I-feel-like-I-have-a-frenzy brain mode.  I can't figure out what happened to my beloved consistency in being able to keep track of family life aspects. Sometimes I think back to my college days where it was just me I had to worry about. I had very specific morning routines and mostly bed time as well.  Of course homework did throw that off at times. Even before my little third love was born, I had a alternating exercise/stretching routine with prayer incorporated as well in the mornings. Things have gone from "did I remember my homework assignments?" to "did I shower this morning??"  The "Did I shower this morning?" happened after each child was born, but with the first two, it went away after a couple of months. Not this time!

I remind myself though, that now I'm tracking 4 people instead of 3. Plus the dog. One of them being a toddler, one a brilliant yet distracted sweet heart, the oldest being a "we must have this done now!" boy and a dog who is constantly begging for a sleeping spot on the couch (he is so offended by the gate chain we put on at night). But really, every little bit changes things.

But here is another thought.

How do your children do at getting themselves ready? 

You might be on rolling on the floor at this point. But seriously, what's it like? Does getting them ready for something make you absolutely lose your mind? Are you amongst those who wonder why it  takes 45 minutes to eat a piece of toast? Or perhaps you have a child who does great and you are wondering why your 10 year old son is able to be ready in 20 minutes and an hour before it's time to leave the house when it takes you 15 minutes to find clothes.  Just to ponder, if your child is the first example and us as adults struggle to get ourselves ready for events, how difficult is it for children who need concrete help? 

Kids Staying on Task
My daughter Adelyn, who I have shared about many times, does wonderfully at school or in other places outside of the home in staying on task.  At home though, I think she let's down her guard and just feels free to let the creative juices flow.  She also is a wonderful little helper to our youngest, Lincoln who is two.  She's loves to help me with him, but there are times when I have to remind her that her other priorities have to come first or she will not be ready.

Check Lists
I would prefer to have 20 check lists posted on walls, but since I need them with me all the time I have succumbed to the check lists on the smart phone. General reminders to complete today, chores, music therapy, Moms Ministry, Scouts, Things to Purchase, Long-Term Family To-dos, etc. I suppose I could leave out a morning and bed time check list on the wall for myself.  Recently, I have found myself maybe needing one at bedtime to remember things like "calm down mind" before bed.  Prayers I do, but something like deep breathing, journaling, or just reminding myself that I do not need to be doing chores or other related tasks right before bed.

In the past couple of years we have created some check lists that has shown more success in staying on task. We created 3 check lists for different times of the day.

Two are the same and are printed.  Not only are the words there on the printed ones, but there are pictures too and tasks are in the order that works best.  The velcro there is to move the marking ball to the task she is currently on.

The third list for after school is a changing list and I write it on our kitchen dry erase board.

We have 3.

Morning Check List

After School Check List

Night Time Check List

This is a pic from my computer, but on my printed version, the Pokeball is velcro and she velcro's it to the space she is on. 

Helpful Routine Check List Tips for Kids

     1. Print it
                  Print it out and put it in a spot they will easily see it and in a location they spend the most                    time in for that particular time of day.

     2. Pictures
                  Use visuals/pictures!  They are processed faster than words in the brain.  When reading                        words we process what each letter sounds like, string them all together to form a word,                        and then process what that words means.
     3. Include Words
                  Do include the words also to interpret what some of the pictures mean in case there is                          anything confusing. This also helps little ones learning to read.  Make it big enough to see                    clearly.
     4. Transition Marker
                   To eliminate wasting time by going through the entire checklist again to find where they                        left off, use the transition marker.  This is a picture that is velcroed next to each step so                        that the current step is easily located. (This was a learning process for us). 

     5. Use Velcro
                   Velcro can often help children who are tactile-kinesthetic learners and satisfy sensory needs.  They get to actively pull and push something and feel different textures in doing so.

To Make your Own Printed with Velcro

  1. Pick your goal
  2. Pick your tasks
  3. Take pictures of each
  4. Make your document with pictures, words, and the spaces for the marker.
  5. Pick your marker picture and print
  6. Laminate the list and the marker separately
  7. Cut the velcro and stick to the list
  8. Velcro the back of the marker.
  9. Post on the wall!


Whiteboard check lists can be great when your routine may change from day to day such as after-school check lists.  We have different activities each day so the whiteboard in the kitchen is great. I don't include pictures as easily (my artwork may not be quite clear), but it works for us. You can definitely include simple pictures and it is great for learning to read or readers.

     1.  Use a different color for each child.

     2. Use large and visible print and clear pictures.

     3. Include time frames or specific times as needed.

Ways to Maybe Help Ourselves Minimize Any Chaos
So to help yourself get ready with minimal tears and steaming emotions, here are questions to help direct your or your kid's thoughts in completing tasks.

  • What do you currently use to help yourself be successful? 
  • How much time do you give yourself? 
  • Have you thought about how much time it take you to do each task? 
  • Are you a morning or night lover?
  • Are you visual? Do you need a check list with words/and or pictures? 
  • Do you need a timer? 
  • Do you need quiet or maybe something peppy to move you along?
  • Do you need extra time to relax your mind first?
  • If something happens out of our control what is the worst that can happen? 
Any other thoughts I missed?  

Sometimes Mission Control Isn't in Control

I am clearly not perfect at any of the above.  And clearly, if you have children, and technology there are things you just cannot control sometimes.  Baby up at 3:00 AM, toddler up at 3:00 AM, 5 year old lost every pair of shoes suitable for playing at the park when it's time to leave, teenage daughter had a crisis 10 minutes before the bus, someone is vomiting, someone decided they had to poop mid routine and it took 15 minutes longer than expected, "oh yeah, there is a spelling test tomorrow and these words on this week's list are not the only words, but the other list is missing", someone needs a 6 drinks of water before bed, iPhone updated without your permission and you can't figure out how to work the new check list, Facebook distracted you, etc.

Check lists do not make life perfect but they do help tremendously.  What helps you? 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Transportation Vowel Sounds

Transportation Vowel Sounds

Today I just want to share a song that I used quite frequently in music therapy sessions with students working towards speech goals. A large number of the students I worked with in the school district were working on goals in this area.  I often pull songs from a set of books from Prelude Music Therapy, which has a variety of songs composed by several music therapists who had specific music therapy goals in mind. I find that these songs are not only great in music therapy sessions, but also when singing with or teaching concepts to my own children.  There are songs for cognition, movement, social skills, receptive and expressive language, and more. 

This particular song here called I was Riding on a School Bus, helps to practice vowel sounds by vocalizing sounds that we use when describing the sounds of transportation.  For example, we sing "choo choo" for trains, "ee-oo" for fire trucks, and "toot toot" for boats.  These sounds are paired with consonants here however, when working with students, my main focus is to emphasize the vowels.  In my examples here, I'm singing with my 1 year old as he explores his transportation puzzle.  In a music therapy session, I would sing it slower and put more focus on the vowels.  Hopefully though, this example will suffice for learning the tune and idea.  I did change a few words here and there to fit our needs. 

If you need a break from singing, The Wheels on the Bus, you might like this one!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dusting Off the Old Blog and Sharing Our New Normal

Alden Bridge Park by me- Keep Looking Up No Matter What

Well, I believe that it has been over a year since I have conversed with the blog here.  So yep, I'm dusting off the blog, uncovering what we shared in the past here and discovering what we can share in the future. 

In the past two years my priorities were arranged so that the blog was clear to the bottom.  Numerous events have happened in the past couple of years and quite a few of them occurring in the past few months. I have also stayed very busy with our youngest as he grows. I think I may be at a point where I can start posting here again.  I'm hoping to post music therapy activities, piano lesson discoveries, hands-on faith teaching, and just fun kid activities. 

My youngest is turning two this week.  He's at a point where I can do theme activities, crafts, and other fun things that I would like to keep track of on here again.  With all of the amazing bloggers out there, I know what we post may not be much comparably, but I like having this here to archive ideas, accomplishments, and experiences.  I also like sharing what I can about music therapy, music lessons,  family life as I learn along the way. 

A New Normal
The past few months have really altered my everyday normal.  It began when I turned over directing the Moms Ministry at our church to a new director.  Next we had the surprise of finding out we were expecting our 4th child and just after i got over the shock and started planning and getting excited, I miscarried.  My dad is finally out of working in a job that has been stressing him out for many years, which is a good thing, but there were many bumps along the way.  After these two events happened, we decided it was best for our family to resign my daughter and myself as a leader from American Heritage Girls because of it not fitting the needs of our family which we had done for two years and were pretty involved in.  To top off the changes, the music therapist I worked for and was going to do evaluations for this school year, discontinued her contract with the school district.   My opportunity there to keep my foot in the door with music therapy by working a few hours a week was gone. 

Through this all I have continued work through the challenges my youngest child, Lincoln, who is a very sweet boy, but is very active like my first one was, and is also a very inconsistent sleeper. Nights have been difficult since day 1 with him.  It has gotten better overall, but we still face challenges and I cherish the sleep that I get. 

A Lesson from the Change
Many of these changes of the summer left me with relief and peace.  I feel like I can stand still and breathe.  My complete focus is on my three children here on earth and of course my husband. A priest once said to me that we give ourselves our own stress. At first I was unsure of his statement, but when I thought about it, I realized that the stresses that I had at that time were mostly self-imposed because of the activities we chose to be involved in, but also because of the expectations I had for myself. Of course, just taking care of a home and caring for the needs of children can bring stress, but I think it is easy to put pressure on ourselves and pile on the expectations of what we think we should be doing or involved in.   I had run this moms ministry for 6 years which was constant thinking ahead, worked a few hours a week while my first two children were young, was involved in American Heritage Girls and Cub Scouts, coached soccer and baseball during the seasons they played and also tried to keep up with my own enjoyments being part of the choral society here and playing intramural soccer. All of those things are things I'm glad that I got to be involved in so it is hard to say what I should have done or not done. I have always believe in self-care first so that we can better serve others, but sometimes I probably did not live out that belief.  I know that regardless, these experiences have helped me grow and learn something. And they helped me to greater understand what the priest was trying to say. 

Me Now and Looking Forward
After experiencing the events of the summer, especially the miscarriage of our baby, whom we named Baby Hazel, I think that I am more reserved in my daily life.  I am still eager to be around other people (actually that energizes and comforts me) and I have a lot of joyous moments, but I seek out moments of quiet, contemplation, and peace much more often. Sometimes I just sit and think or gaze out the window and take in the peace of the outdoors. I sometimes just sit with the thought of Jesus sitting with me. I do sometimes think about what life would have been like with our little baby and I have many moments of grief, but I am also looking ahead to this year and what we will make of it.  I am excited to continue building the piano studio I have been running for the past couple of years. Adelyn did join Girl Scouts and I will be helping as one of her leaders which will be my volunteer role this year.  Zac is in his last year of elementary school....hard for me to believe that...and I hope to enjoy and take in every moment that I can.  I am also looking forward to doing toddler activities with Lincoln and taking him to the library and open gym. I feel like I can do these things more peacefully.  

I always hope lessons such as this can be something to pass down and share with my children in hopes of keeping them from making the same mistakes, although I know that in some situations we can share all we want, but humans just have to learn themselves from the experience. Like maybe in parenting.  That right there is probably a whole other blog post.