Be a Team for your Child – Teachers and Parents Together

Several years ago, I wrote an article entitled Hey There Educators – Who Needs You More? You may want to read that over as you begin a new school year. But for now, let’s talk about being a team! ‎

Parents, as you begin a new year with your child in school, think about what your child’s needs and strengths are. Let your teacher know about anything that may help your child be successful and comfortable. Teachers, truly listen to your parents. They are leaving their precious gifts in your watch, and they need to learn to trust you. It takes time to build a relationship that is positive, warm, and caring.

I’ll never forget my daughter’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Hoeschen. Her compassion combined with competence was truly a masterpiece to watch. Our daughter was in the height of chemo-therapy treatments, and Mrs. Hoeschen had a plan for our little girl that covered every base from academics to medical needs. AND she listened to us, the parents. She put us at ease immediately. I hope every teacher truly knows how deeply important you are.

Parents, I hope you understand just how impossible the job of a teacher is. I hope you also see how these miracle workers somehow manage the impossible every day. So if I may be so bold, I have a few suggestions for parents as well. Be realistic and know your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Build on the strengths and teach strategies to manage the weaknesses at home so that she can use those same strategies at school. At home, if your child has a difficult time sharing, following directions, conforming to a schedule or a break in routine, cleaning up, taking no for an answer when he wants to use an iPad, listening to others, showing compassion for those who are hurting, being helpful, etc., there is a strong possibility that those same skills will be difficult for him in school. If you struggle with anything at home, don’t be shocked if you hear that your child struggles in school with the same things. Be patient and supportive of your teacher as he or she tries to understand and guide your child’s learning.  As a former educator, the support I received from parents was so important! Thank you, on behalf of all educators, for your support of them.

I encourage all of you today to set a goal of being a TEAM together – the child, the parent, and the teacher. You will have frustrations as you continue your year. Just keep those lines of communication open. Best wishes for a new year!

Here are a couple of greeting songs that may be useful in your first days back at school. Enjoy!

You may also enjoy using the Hi Song from our Imitation Exploration Set 1. Our sale this new school year is 50% off any of our individual CDs, USB Flashdrives, or DVDs. (Does not include Combo Sets as they are already significantly discounted.) Check them out in our shopping cart.

Who’s in the Window? (I’m a Little Teapot)  (Use a picture frame or poster board cut in the shape of a window. Take turns passing the frame or each child can have their own frame, perhaps of a different color.)

Who’s in the (blue) window? Who do we see?

Jacob, Jacob lookin’ at me.

Hello Jacob. Hi, Hi, Hi

Hello How Are You? (Mary Had a Little Lamb) © Rachel Arntson, 2003

Hello children, how are you?

How are you? How are you?

Hello children, how are you?

Who is sitting next to you?


Erik’s sitting next to you.

Hello, Erik, how are you?

Hello Erik, how are you?

Who is sitting next to you?

Building Sounds to Make Words

Helping children build sounds to make words is incredibly rewarding.This illustrates a recent experience I had with one of my students with limited ability to produce sounds. We brainstormed how to encourage positive communication even with limited verbal skills.

Motor Planning Issues – One of my little students has been working on producing vowel sounds and shaping them into words. We have also been emphasizing consonant-vowel (CV) productions and also CVCV. Here are some highlights: 1. This child’s staying power and willingness to try has skyrocketed. Why? because we have chosen motivating activities for speech practice. (ie – Swinging in a blanket onto the couch creates movement as well as excellent eye contact and opportunities for speech practice.)
2. We looked for immediate carry-over. This little one could say, “ah”, so we shaped it into “on” and “off”. Today we heard spontaneous “on” and “off” for turning on the microwave and also as a request to get something off.
3. To build sounds, I often start with vowel productions. For this student I used my vowel pictures (free in my Free Resources page), the Apraxia Kit from Talk Tools help with lip rounding for oh and oo, and vowel combinations to get sounds and words such as “uh oh,” “oo wa,” and “eeya.” This drill has paid off as vowel productions are getting more consistent and “wawa” is now a spontaneous word.
4. I discussed the progression of sound development with a parent. Describing the relationship between sounds has really helped this parent understand the struggle the child has and what makes one sound easier to produce than another.
5. Creating opportunities for a child to produce sounds when playing has been a goal. It is amazing how quiet some children are during play. My belief is that some children are not able to motor plan gross motor movement with oral motor and speech. So while playing with preferred toys, I typically brainstorm with the parent on what sounds would make sense in particular situations. When a child realizes that he/she can vocalize while playing, this increases confidence and verbalizations. He/She is giving himself speech therapy each session.


Are you into singing or rapping? Both are great for learning!

I believe wholeheartedly in the power of music to enhance speech and language learning. Whether you are trying to remember your phone number, memorize 5 facts for a history test, or learn how to spell a complicated word, attaching those skills with a song can be a huge help. The same is true for young children learning to talk. Music is a learning tool.


In my journey of writing songs, I discovered that some children would cover their ears when hearing people sing. This was certainly a frustrating situation when I was trying to create songs that would be helpful to their communication skills. In watching them, though, they seemed to tolerate spoken words that were put to rhythm and music more than singing. That was the beginning of my life as a “rapper!” Please keep in mind that I use the term, “rapping,” very loosely. ????


When you listen to song samples of my songs, you will hear that some are sung and some are spoken, but all contain simple, catchy rhythm and melody in the background. I know that “rapping” may have a totally different definition than I am using here, but for lack of a better word, I call my songs with spoken words, “raps.”


Let me give you an example. Go to my song sample page of Imitation Exploration Set 1. The song, Baby Blowing Bubbles, is a simple song that is sung and emphasizes vocabulary associated with blowing bubbles. Kids love this song! In my “rap” style, you can go to the “Hi Song” and hear a distinct rhythm and melody but with spoken words emphasizing 2 word phrases. Both songs are loved by kids, but both have a distinctly different style.


I challenge all of you to create your own songs or raps to teach your children or yourself a skill that you find complex. You may be surprised at how much easier it is to learn.

The Parents of our Parent-Teacher Organization Are SPECIAL!!

Thinking about parents – As I get ready for a new school year, my mind often goes, not only to my little students, but their parents as well. I thought I would share something I wrote for our Early Childhood Special Education PTO defining the word, “special”.
I have been a staff representative for the Early Childhood Special Education PTO for about 20 years now. You would think that I would move on to other committees in our program, but none have moved me like the PTO. So I stay and continue to be blessed by the dedicated parents who give their time to make our ECSE program a better place.


Parents of children with “special” needs are truly very special in their own right. In my opinion, the word “special”, as it is used to describe our students in ECSE, does not equate to something that is “wrong” with our kids. Quite to the contrary, I see “special” as being exactly that. The children in our program are so uniquely special in the ways that they learn, accomplish new goals, and tackle new activities. But if you are looking for other people who are “special”, look at the parents of our students.
I looked up the word “special” in an online dictionary and some of the synonyms that came up were: superior, exceptional, distinctive, extraordinary, out of the ordinary, unique, and different.

Hey There Educators, Who Needs You More?

I was sitting in a staff development workshop one day. As I sat there, I began drifting off, thinking about our students and then the teachers who have classrooms of children. I asked myself this question: Which child in your class needs you more?

The quiet one? The loud one? The crying one? The laughing one? The artistic one? The mechanical one? The budding writer? The amazing builder? The one mis-behaving? The one withdrawn? The parents who are always there? The parents who are never there? The child on free and reduced lunch? The child who has everything and needs to learn that sharing is an amazing virtue? The one who causes no trouble but gets lost in the shuffle? The one who gets noticed by everyone but usually gets negative attention? The one who can’t read? The one who reads well above age level? The one who never jumps to be first in line? The one who is always first in line? The one who gets bullied? The one who bullies others?

This list can be as long as there are children in the world. Every child is different and comes with a bag FULL of needs. The answer is that every child needs you more. It just depends on the day and the situation. It depends on the teachable moment at the time and who needs to learn it. It depends on who is struggling and who may be able to help a friend who is struggling. It just depends, doesn’t it?

Teaching is a mind boggling job. I have the utmost respect for all educators and especially those who teach a classroom. Best wishes for a new year!

I wrote a song while running today. It’s to the tune of Camptown Races (an excellent song for all sorts of speech and language practice.) This may help you as you teach your little ones this week or next. Have fun! The kids you teach are very special. Give them everything you’ve got!

We Are All in School Today

We are all in school today. Hooray! Hooray!

We are all in school today. Yes!!

!! Hooray!!!!

(repeat those two lines)

Some came in a car.

Some came in a bus.

Did anyone come in a plane? NO, NOT US!!!

Who all came to school today? Jacob, Kelsey, Erik, Sam

Who else came to school today? Robin and Phillip, too.

Some came in a car.

Some came in a bus.

Did anyone come in a boat? NO, NOT US!!!