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I've received several questions lately so I thought I would share them here.  If you have questions, you can leave them in the comments or email me at lifeinspecialeducation(at)gmail(dot)com.

Question:  I have a kindergarten student who is struggling with waiting his turn.  He gets mad when I call on other students.  He only wants to be a partner with one student in the class.  He refuses to work with any other student other than the one preferred peer.  He also has poor fine motor skills and a very weak pencil grasp.  How can I help him be more successful in the classroom?

1.  Answering questions/waiting his turn to talk- Create a visual for the board.  Use a flat magnet that is red on one side and green on the other side.  Place 5 of these magnets on the board.  Explain to the student that these are his question tickets.  When he answers a question or volunteers a story, turn one magnet from green to red.  When he runs out of tickets, he cannot answer any more questions.  Since this is a kindergarten, the question tickets should be reset for each instructional block/subject.  Give the student ownership of his question tickets and have him reset the tickets to green before each new subject.

2.  Partner with non-preferred peers- To help student work with a variety of peers, have him work with preferred peer along with another peer.  This will help the student get used to working with others.  If he refuses to include the third peer, use "first, then."  First you will work with the assigned partner, then you will get to choose your own partner for the next activity.  If the student knows that he will get to work with his friend, he will be more willing to tolerate other peers to get what he wants in the end.

3.  Fine motor- First, only use the "fat" pencils/crayons/markers.  If the student does not use a tripod grasp, give the student only short pencils that are no longer than 3-4 inches.  The short pencil forces the student to hold the pencil using a tripod grasp.  Once the student begins to use a tripod grasp regularly, you can transition him to use longer pencils.  This particular student does use a tripod grasp, but the grasp is so weak that if he were to lift the pencil off of the paper, the pencil would fall out of his hand.  Try to figure out if the student has a sensory issue of how the pencil feels when writing on paper.  If this is the issue, a mechanical pencil may help.  If not, the student may need a weighted pencil.  You can make your own weighted pencil by adding a metal nut to the end of the pencil.  (Put a little duct tape over it to keep it secure.)  You can also work on strengthening his hand muscles by having find small objects in putty.


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