The Ivymount School
Center for OutReach and Education (CORE)
WHAT DOES CORE
DO WHEN THEY COME INTO A CLASSROOM?
go into the child's classroom and observe the child in his " natural
setting" We observe how he plays, socializes, transitions, uses language,
performs motor skills, and processes sensory information. We use this
information to develop strategies to assist in creating classroom success.
We observe how the classroom is set up, the teaching style, the child's
learning style, structure of the program and how these impact the child's
ability to be available for learning. These observations are used so that
recommended strategies can be generalized into the day. Strategies are
practical and functional in order to create a more productive learning
environment for the child.
WHY DO PARENTS GENERALLY CONTACT CORE?
Parents call us
when their child is having difficulty in his/her existing program. They may call
CORE after repeated calls from classroom staff regarding problems: in play,
listening, socializing, separation issues, inability to follow group directions,
activity level, or possibly disruptive behavior. Parents are often confused
about the child's behavior at school and are eager to find a direction.
WHY DO TEACHERS
OR CENTERS CONTACT CORE?
CORE after they are stymied over a child's challenging behavior. Often times
they have tried a variety of techniques which have not been successful, and
the staff is seeking guidance to individualize a child's program. Frequently a child has several areas of needs related to language, sensory, motor, and social functioning
that require expertise in those particular areas to plan an appropriate program.
CORE provides SUPPORT and TRAINING to staff in order for them to implement a
CAN YOU GIVE
EXAMPLES OF WHAT YOU DO IN THE CLASSROOM?
Let us take a look
at Dan, a four year old in his second year of pre-school. The staff and parents
contacted CORE because Dan was having great difficulty playing and socializing
with the children in his classroom. The staff described Dan as a verbal youngster
who interacted almost exclusively with the teachers. Prior to our visit Dan's
parents and teachers provided detailed information about how he played both
at home and school. He liked tabletop activities best and appeared overwhelmed
in larger group activities. He watched his peers play in the creative play corner
and on the playground. CORE observed a "typical morning" in Dan's
preschool. He was observed at circle time, transitions, centers, snack, music
and outdoor playground play. An Occupational Therapist and a Speech and Language
Pathologist observed Dan jointly due to concerns regarding sensory issues and possible language processing. The CORE
team spent two hours in Dan's classroom observing and interacting at strategic
moments to test some strategies. Following the observation, CORE team members
collaborated on a written report and strategies for the classroom and parents.
Approximately a week later, CORE, the parents and staff met at Dan's pre-school
to discuss the findings of the observation and the strategies. The following
is a brief summary of a few of the suggestions:
- The teachers and CORE consultants worked to incorporate smaller group
times into the classroom day, since Dan was more likely to be involved with
peers in a smaller group setting. This youngster appeared to be sensitive to
loud noises. We worked on monitoring the noise level in the classroom. Teachers
used techniques such as singing a quiet song, turning the lights off or even
reading a book with the lights off or using a flashlight, whenever it was needed.
- CORE suggested incorporating more activities where Dan could be paired
with a peer. For example, two children painted together by putting balls, paint
and paper in a box and moving the balls around in the box. We paired two children
together for several classroom jobs such as lunch box set up. Reciprocal activities
were added at snack time by having two children make a snack for each other.
- CORE suggested that dramatic play be tied to other parts of the classroom.
For example, a teacher read a book about going to the doctor and there were
several play medical bags and bandages in the housekeeping corner that day.
The teacher was there to gently guide and facilitate the play. She did this
by initially participating in the play and taking a less active role as the children
got more involved.
- At home, CORE recommended that Dan's family work on turn-taking during
play. For example, Dan selected a game that his family could play. Later, another
family member picked an activity and Dan followed his lead. The ability to take
turns during play is an essential skill for conversation and higher level play
Another example of a CORE CONSULATATION:
Annie was an active three and half year old who enthusiastically raced into
the room to greet teachers and classmates. She enjoyed play with peers at the
water and sand tables. Her teachers were concerned because Annie had a short
attention span and was not attentive to group activities. She was able to follow
a variety of requests and answer age appropriate questions when they were asked
to her individually. However, during circle time she appeared inattentive and
fidgeted frequently. She often approached the various centers with interest.
She would participate in a classroom activity for a short period of time and then
move to the next one. Parents were observing this behavior at home and had
asked the school in helping them with the problem. The school contacted CORE.
CORE discussed home routines and concerns with parents prior to the visit to
Annie's school. CORE observed Annie in her classroom from the time of drop off,
though free activity choice, circle time, activity time, snack and large playroom
play. A mutually agreeable time was set up prior to the consultation for parents,
staff and CORE to meet and discuss the results of the consultation. The following
are a few of the strategies.
- Annie's teachers and CORE consultants suggested setting up chairs for
circle time activities. Annie's chair was placed in close proximity to her teacher.
This would help her attend and provide physical support to decrease fidgeting.
- CORE increased the use of charts and pictures to help keep Annie attentive
to circle time. As a "HELLO" song was song to each child, he/she placed
his/her picture onto the board. The teacher then helped the children use the
board to count the number of children at school and to determine who was absent.
- A visual daily schedule was also added so that the teacher could discuss
the day's events and help the children transition from one activity to another.
Another visual support was introduced by providing realistic objects when appropriate.
For example, when the children sang a song about farm animals, the teacher brought
out a box of toy animals and the children picked out an animal to incorporate into the
next verse. (These visual supports helped Annie attend for longer periods of
- CORE consultants and teachers worked together to add movement activities
throughout the day. Movement songs were added to circle activities and incorporated
into other areas of the curriculum. An obstacle course was set up, for example,
for children to move through to get to the creative play corner. Movement activities
were added to nursery rhymes and story times.
- It was suggested that the adults should join in Annie's play and strategically
provide novel items to keep her interest. At the water table, for example, Annie
may play with washing dolls in the water. The adults then could provide a sponge
to wash the doll and show how to rinse the doll's hair. At tabletop activities,
it was suggested that Annie be gently encouraged to complete activities that
had an obvious beginning and end (such as a puzzle or art project).
HOW DOES CORE SERVE AS A COMMUNITY RESOURCE?
CORE provides monthly
training workshops for childcare providers, teachers and parents on topics concerning
general child development and specific areas of concern such as language processing,
sensory integration, difficulties with play and social interaction, development
of hand and visual fine motor skills, working with challenging behaviors and
encouraging literacy and language. New training workshops are regularly being
developed as a need in the community is identified. CORE utilizes the expertise
of the Ivymount School's special education teachers and therapists to teach
the training sessions. CORE publishes a monthly column in Washington Parent
magazine. Contributing authors are the Ivymount School staff members.
HOW DO PARENTS
AND SCHOOLS CONTACT CORE?
Coordinator of CORE
Center for Outreach in Education
The Ivymount School
11614 Seven Locks Road
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Fax: 301 469-0778