I may have mentioned that this is a very young class. I’m still adjusting to their relative lack of maturity, and their difficulties with conversation, vocabulary, discussion, and questioning. Here’s a little example.
Bunny comes up from breakfast. She has some issues with speech, so I ask her, “what did you have for breakfast?”
Bunny smiles at me, blankly.
“You were just downstairs eating breakfast. Can you tell me what you ate?”
“A cupcake?” she ventures.
“Well, they don’t have cupcakes for breakfast. Do you mean a muffin?”
“Yeah, a muffin.”
“What else did you eat?” I ask.
She shows me her thumb and forefinger, making a little circle. I’m at a loss, so I suggest we go downstairs to the cafeteria to see what is being offered. I desperately want Bunny to learn more words.
In the cafeteria, we join the other kids from our class at “our” table, where they are sitting with our two wonderful 8th grade helpers. I tell the older girls what I’m up to, and suggest that they talk to the children about what they are eating each day, so the little ones can strengthen their vocabularies. When I look at the food, I discover that Bunny ate grapes, so I teach her the word for grapes, thinking to myself, didn’t we all work on this word last month during our farm and food unit?
I turn to Deer, and ask her, “what are you eating for breakfast, sweetie?”
Deer looks at me like, well, like a deer in headlights. She is even more limited in her vocabulary than Bunny (both of whom, by the way, are native English speakers). She has a bagel in her hand, but has no word for it.
I turn to Froggy, who is also eating a bagel. He’s had some developmental delays, but seems worlds ahead of Deer. I think he will be exited from special ed services within the year. Anyway, Froggy grins at me broadly and announces, “a bagel!!”
“Deer, what are you eating?”
“A bagel?” she says, tentatively.
“Yes!” I say. “You are eating a bagel. Yum!”
Later that morning, I am working on a gingerbread man project with Deer and Froggy, and decide to try to have a conversation with Deer while she is working. After a few attempts go nowhere, I ask her, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?”
She looks at me, frozen. I turn to Froggy, again. “Froggy, what did you have for breakfast?”
“A bagel!” he says, happily.
Now it’s Deer’s turn. “What did you eat for breakfast today?”
She thinks about it. “Chicken.”