Each year, Missouri’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) program offers a free screening to each child enrolled in the program. Michael’s screening was Monday. This was the first year he got the “preschool” screening rather than the toddler developmental screening. Our PAT educator, Ms. S., came to our house to do the screening. She worked with Michael independently at the kitchen table while I kept Ava busy in the playroom. The screening probably took about half an hour. To be honest, I wasn’t paying close attention to the time so I’m not completely sure. Ms. S. told me that they don’t switch over to the preschool screening until the child is at least 3 years, 3 months old so Michael just made the cutoff to use the higher level screening.
The screening has three parts: a language section, a concepts section, and a motor section. This particular screening is used with 3, 4, 5, and 6 year old children. In fact, they’ll use the exact same form for the next two years so we’ll be able to track his progress from year to year. The language section covers personal data (do they know their name, etc.), a basic articulation screening, matching actions to objects, letters and sounds skills, rhyming, and simple problem solving. The concepts section covers body parts, colors, counting, shapes, positions (under, beside, etc.), and concepts (longest, full, cold, etc.). The motor section covers both gross motor skills (catching, jumping, hopping, etc.) and fine motor skills (building with small blocks, cutting, copying symbols, etc.).
So, Michael did an amazing job on the language and concepts sections. He performed at the 4, 5, and even 6 year old level on the questions on these sections. I am so proud of him. I knew he was a smart kid, but wow! It’s always nice to have independent confirmation.
In the motor section we saw an entirely different picture. He pretty much performed at the under three level or barely qualified at the three year old level for these skills. It’s strange. He can use a computer mouse completely independently. He can double click, single click, and move it to exactly where he wants it. He can build complex structures with duplos and the smaller legos. He can string beads onto a pipe cleaner. And yet he holds crayons and pencils in his fist like he’s trying to stab someone with them. He still doesn’t show consistent hand dominance. Sometimes he’ll use the right and other times the left. He isn’t interested in coloring for more than 2-3 minutes at a time perhaps because he finds it difficult. He does like to cut paper, but we don’t do it often and so he isn’t very precise. Perhaps I need to work art into our weekly schedule a little more often. And as far as gross motor is concerned I guess we need to work more on balance and catching. Hopefully spring will provide more opportunity to get outdoors and play physically some more. He also cannot pedal a tricycle yet.
I suppose, as I parent I do the things I like most. So we do a lot of singing, reading, talking, and playing with toys like legos, marble runs, trains, and puzzles. We don’t do as much art and physical play. I need to branch out more so that my children will have a more balanced skill set.
So, overall I thought the screening was great. It showed me that Michael is a smart little boy who has definite areas of strength and I’m so proud of him. It also showed me that I have an opportunity to focus on some new things that hopefully we will all enjoy while getting to practice some new skills.
Does anyone have suggestions of fun art activities that might work on some of those fine motor skills beyond simple coloring projects?