Thursday, April 30, 2009

Songs to encourage communication #2

As I posted before, singing to and with your preemie is a great way to enhance his/her communication skills. Last time I posted about Wheels on the Bus. This post is dedicated to the classic song "Old McDonald Had a Farm."

Here are some ways to help your preemie participate in the song.

1) Animal sounds - This song is great for teaching and working on animal sounds. If your preemie is just learning animal sounds than make sure you really focus on the animal sound part of the song. As your preemie learns new animal sounds you can add more verses to the song.

2) Use pictures or toys - If you have a book with animals or actual animal toys than bring those out for singing the song. This will help your preemie make the connection between the animal and the sound. As you sing the song, hold up the animal or picture that you are singing about. You can let your preemie hold the animals and play with them during the song.

3) Pause - During the song, try to pause during each part (esp. the animal sounds part) in order to give your preemie a chance to "sing" along. Any sound or attempt at sound that your preemie makes should be celebrated and encouraged. It doesn't matter if he/she sings in tune with the song. Taking turns helps your preemie learn how to talk and communicate.

3) Add animals - Does your preemie know more jungle animals than farm animals? No problem. Your farm can have any animal on it that you want. Lions, elephants and pigs can all hang out and play on your farm. We have also added in a farmer (who says hello) and a tractor (who makes car sounds that only my son can do).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life in our preemie world: Stares

8 minutes and 12 seconds.

That is the longest amount of time that someone has full on stared at my daughter (that I noticed and timed out of pure curiosity). Granted it was a ten year-old boy but still. Awkward. When we go out places we often attract first, second, and sometimes even third looks from people. We went to Disneyland last year and two different people walked into something because they were looking at her and not the big huge bush in front of them.

For the most part I don't mind the extra looks. A two-year-old with oxygen is an unusual site indeed. Add her feeding pump and that makes for even more attention worthy notice.

I usually just smile at the kids that stare and then ask their mom or dad half whispered questions about "the thing in her nose." The 8 minute stare came from a boy who walked over and just stood directly in front of us while we were watching my son ice skate. I tried to get his attention to see if he had a question but nope - just kept staring.

My husband and I actually don't mind when people ask questions about our daughter. We want to spread the word about prematurity. Personally I do get a bit frustrated when people just stare without saying anything or ask "what's wrong with her?"

I know I'm not alone. I've talked to other preemie moms and dads that have had people stare at their child, ask ridiculous questions or compare how their kid is doing to yours. So I've decided we should fight back. Let's stare at all those weird full term babies who hit their milestones on time, are average size and basically "normal." Let's ask silly questions. Here are some completely tongue-in-cheek, just for fun suggestions to get you started:

1) How old is he/she? When they give their perfectly normal answer that matches the size of their kid than you ask - "Isn't it boring to have a child whose size is so...predictable?"

2) When they talk about how they only go to the pediatrician for immunizations/well baby/sick visits, than you say "So, you only have one doctor for your kid? I have 7!" We may not be able to beat them at some things but doctors - we win every time.

3) When they talk about how their kid did xyz at whatever age than you just stare for a few seconds and say "interesting." That will throw them off. Or you can say "doesn't that get boring?"

Do you have any strategies or thoughts about dealing with the curious people of the world? Please share!

Where O Where

Many apologies for my blogging absence of late. Between birthdays, appointments and a fully mobile two year-old to go with my energetic five year-old, things have been crazy.

But I'm back! With many new posts in the days, weeks to come. If I don't melt in all this heat first.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Preemie Parent?

Are you a new preemie parent? Is your baby in the NICU or getting ready to come home. Make sure and check out all of the entries in the NICU section for helpful information to get you through a very tough roller coaster ride.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Focus: Single Activity Work

My daughter often has trouble sitting down and working on a single task. If she isn't interested than she wants almost nothing to do with it. Now that she is fully walking, working on specific developmental areas can be difficult. Recently I've started reading a number of blogs focused on the Montessori approach to teaching and learning. I like many things about the Montessori approach and I've been slowly trying to integrate that style of learning into what I do with my kids each day.

One blog that I love has some great activities that she does with her 15 month old. One of them was introducing the concept of pouring. Here is the post: The Wonder Years. She used a large container and put plastic Easter eggs inside that were poured onto a tray. My computer is broken (again) so please click on the link to see the pictures that she has. For Olivia I had her pour the eggs into a bowl.

This is a great task for working on several developmental areas:

1) Fine motor - after pouring the eggs into the bowl, I had her put the eggs back into the large can so she could pour again.

2) Waiting - Olivia had to make sure all the eggs were inside the can before pouring again. This is an important skill to work on with kids

3) Visual perception - by having Olivia pour the eggs into the bowl, she had to figure out where to place the can so that the eggs would end up inside the bowl.

The best part? Olivia loved it! She asked to do it at least 5-6 times for several days in a row. I'm planning on introducing more activities like these and I will post them here for you to try as well.