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Advice Please?


narnia
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we have a little girl who is 21/2 at the preschool.She barely talks at all whilst she is with us, to the point that one of the children yelled with excitement when this child said 'yes' to him the other day.Mum reports that, at home, she is a real chatterbox. Also, she will not play, or join in with anything, unless we suggest that she does a particular activity, or plays with particular children. Now, I have been trying to get to the bottom of this and it seems to me that part of the problem is that she has been going to work with her mum since she was 6 weeks old, and because of mum's work, has to be fairly quiet ( mum works with very elderly, frail people, who love to see the child, but can't cope with the nosie that children make, so mum decided the time was right to send her to us).Mum tells the child exactly what to do at home...........' we're going to paint/draw/play with dough/ etc and this child has little in the way of free choice. She has been with us a little while now, and we have been very gently trying to coax her into choosing things to do for herself..........................and sometimes we will say that we aren't sure what to do next, so could x choose something for us please?? and she always seems overwhelmed by this and simply stands there until we ask for a specific thing. She loves the dolls and prams ( mummy has promised her one for xmas.......IF and only IF she is out of nappies by then, she is two and a half). So, dear friends and experts, what can we do to make this child's time with us a happier experience??she seems very happy to play by herself, but i'd like to see her joining in too!

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I'm not really sure what advice to give but didn't want to read and run so I'll have a go.

I look after a little girl who found it very hard to choose activities and wanted to be directed all the time (lots of other issues too) but what I found has really helped with this issue is using visual choosing cards - just 2 at a time to start with and now we've built up to a whole range. I held up two picture cards, say playdough or cars, and said "It's choosing time, what would you like to play"

My other immediate thought was that mum sounds like a bit of a control freak and any huge discrepancy between home and setting - ie. chatterbox in one, silent in the other - would be a cause for concern for me and I would definately want to monitor it as you are doing.

What about planning some paired work with another child or I do an activity in a small group called "roll the ball" which helps children develop social skills in a kind of formal way but seems to work (learning each others names, interacting through eye contact, turntaking, including everyone) - we sit in a circle and I have a ball, I sing "we roll the ball, we roll the ball, we roll the ball to johnny" and johnny then chooses who he would like to roll the ball to and so on.

hope something there might help

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We had a little girl with limited language skills who needed support to make choices about what to do at pre-school, but who was happy to do whatever the adult working with her suggested. We offered her a choice of two things to do initially (both things we knew she liked to do) to encourage her to make her own decisions but from a very limited range of options. In the beginning she would take the practitioner to the place where her chosen activity was situated, without speaking but gradually and with encouragement she would answer with single words.

 

We also used a transitional object (her favourite dolly which went everywhere with her) - asking her where the dolly would like to play which worked well too because it took the attention away from what the child wanted to do. Somehow making a choice on behalf of dolly was a lot easier, especially when limited to two options.

 

As for the problems with this child's reluctance to make noise more generally, perhaps you could draw her attention to when children are playing noisily (and happily and constructively) and let her know that this is an OK way to play, that you approve of them having so much fun. It will take a long time for her to overcome her conditioning but hopefully with time she will begin to see that children aren't disapproved of when they play in this way, and will want to join in the fun.

 

Once you have got her making decisions about what to do, perhaps you could move on to helping her decide to go and join other children at their play (or inviting children to join in her play). You could try it the other way round by trying to get her to join other children's play, but personally I'd concentrate on one aspect at a time so as not to overwhelm her all at once.

 

She's only very young and still finding her feet with you - but isn't it sad when our attempts to do what we think is best (or what we need to do to juggle work and family life) has an unexpected and adverse effect on our children's development? If you share your ideas with mum perhaps you can work out a way to support this work at home and in the setting so that the child gets a consistent message and begins to make progress.

 

Bless her heart - good luck!

 

Maz

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I agree with Maz.

 

Just give her two choices and not too often.

 

I wouldn't worry about her making a noise. I'm sure that will come with time. She is still very little and if she is happy playing by herself I would let her do that for the majority of the time.

 

It must all seem very alien to her but I'm sure that, unless there is an underlying problem, she will begin to play more normally as long as she doesn't feel pressured.

 

I once worked with a little boy who had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and the resulting trauma caused him to stop speaking altogether. He took a long time to come round but the first time he answered me when I spoke to him I was over the moon. The many, many months of patience and acceptance had paid off.

 

I wonder if you could persuade her mum to change her mind about the doll? That sort of pressure culd be very counter-productive.

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so long as she is a chatterbox at home I would not really worry about it..she is still quite young..

 

My son did not speak at preschool for 18 months.. it took them that long to ask if he did talk! That bit worried me a bit, which is why I have always asked as soon as I notice it..

 

at home he did not stop... it was just his way of coping with a strange or unusual situation... he did it a long time, every time he changed class silence for most of the year.. then he joined in the summer term, once he knew the teacher well enough to have the confidence in himself.. not the best for his education... until the school and I worked out what was happening and they had to have a split class over 2 years because of numbers half yr 1 half yr2.. He stayed in the class with the same teacher for another year and suddenly he began to change..

 

What I think I am saying is it can take ages for the child to have enough confidence not only in themselves but also in the adults to talk to them..

 

As to choosing.. too much choice can be overwhelming for some children, limit the choice as suggested and it can help.. If not used to having other children around to play with this may also be an issue with her, hence the need for adult support still... and at 2 1/2 are they not still solitary play stage yet to begin to want to make friends.. we had several start at 3 doing this and so long as we left them to play with other children around they gradually began to take notice of the other children and want to join in..

 

really I'm just playing with ideas here.. you know the child and it is hard to suggest... perhaps a picture timeline for her to follow of places she may like to go just 2 at a time,

 

 

enough rambling..but time may be all it needs..

 

Inge

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great advice already, i would agree with the choice of two activities, we have found this very effective, she is still very young and you may find she gradually starts to talk etc. we have found that a cassette recorder with microphone for the children to use has been really good for the quiet children to find a voice and also surprisingly a voice changer i know tts sell it but i think tesco do it as well, you press a button and talk into it and it makes different sounds it always makes me smile when you have a child who never talks grabs hold of the voice changer and doesn't stop!, i wonder if it's because it doesn't sound like them they can cope with it!!!!???? one last thing that we do is buddy up quiet children with other children who are not too over confident but vocal, this seems to give some children more confidence.

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How about using puppets, can you tell the puppet which toy you want to play with?

 

On a recent course the CLL co-ordinator suggested using a voice box, similar idea to the microphone, using say a shoe box covered in some stimulating or soft material, with a hole in it, to use at circle time as a magic voice box that the child can speak into.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I would agree with the above advice. using choice cards is a great idea. also the adult modelling the thought process of choosing- i wonder what i can play with now.... i think i'd like to play with dolls etc. modelling play ina small group if you have an area available for small group work. Poor little thing. Hope she becomes more confidant to enjoy your facilities.

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