I'm still getting used to the double drop off and pick ups on the school run, with Ella and Lucy being at different places for this school year.
Wednesday to Friday, Lucy is in pre-school which means I drop off and pick up Ella first and then make the 5 minute car journey to Lucy's nursery to drop her off or pick her up.
The mornings are generally fine, as Ella has to be in school for 8.55am at the latest and then Lucy's drop off is 9-9.15am which gives me plenty of time to drop them both off without rushing or worrying either will be late.
Pick-ups are a little different as Ella finishes at 3.15pm and then I have to get to Lucy's nursery by 3,30pm. This is doable as I park close to the school gates and the nursery is only a short drive, but it does rely on Ella coming out of school promptly and being one of the first to leave the classroom (then not making any of her famous detours before we reach the car). Her classroom door opens straight onto the playground which does speed the process up a lot. I've also found that leaving her after school snack in the car means she has an incentive to get there quicker too!
I had no need to worry about any of this last Friday. As the classroom door opened, Ella was the first child out of the door - and for good reason. She was clutching the 'Star of The Week' certificate proudly to her chest. As she saw me, she stopped and announced to myself and other awaiting parents
' Ella is a Superstar'
Says it all really. She received the certificate for 'fantastic number work' (tracing numbers and linking number to quantity when I asked her teacher for specifics!) which is lovely because unlike her phonics/letters and writing she struggles with numbers and maths (just like her mum). Maths is a much more abstract concept for a visual learner than reading and writing is which makes it a harder skill to master.
She's definitely a lot less confident with her numbers - she can count to ten on a good day but is very inconsistent, can miss numbers out or get them the wrong way round. She can also count 'how many', but often has trouble recognising her numbers and we are still a long way off doing sums. But, she is working hard even though she doesn't find it easy which is all we can ask for. We have her EHCP review this week and maths will be one of the many aspects of school life to discuss. We will be setting targets for Ella to achieve throughout this school year and how she can meet those targets.
I am no expert and realise that every child is different and what works for Ella may not work for others but wanted to share some of the things that we have been using to help her improve her maths skills and understanding at home.
We bought our own Numicon set when Ella started using it at pre-school. It's a brilliant visual and physical way for teaching children with DS to count using shapes, patterns, colours and they can count using the coloured pegs or by counting the holes in each shape. The number shapes also fit together so adding numbers produces a shape or pattern - for example instead of imagining what 4+3 equals, the sums can physically be done by the child using the number 3 shape and the number 4 shape. This multi-sensory approach really consolidates the learning taking place and is also allowing a learn by doing approach too.
We've just started using mathletics now she is in year 1. Mathletics is an interactive virtual learning platform that links in with the taught curriculum. The tasks/activities Ella needs to do are set by school and we log on to her specific learning profile to work through them. This again is a very visual approach to number work and as we access it via an app on the Ipad, it becomes more of a game than a school related activity and is therefore more appealing to Ella.
Anywhere and everywhere
Around the house and when out and about we do lots of counting. I try and bring it into everything - playing games, reading books 'how many ducks on the pond in this picture' or at the supermarket - 'can you put six carrots in the bag please Ella'. I'm also pointing out lots of numbers on signs/buses/registration plates to get her practising recognising her numbers.
As with all aspects of Ella's learning she needs lots and lots of repetition to consolidate new information and skills.
I know she will get there and it doesn't matter when, we will just keep on going until she does.