Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Screening Results - Always interesting

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?


  1. I wouldn't worry about it too much - as he just turned three - my daughter who just turned 5, recently found out what hand she prefers to write with and now holds her pencil/crayons with a better grasp. I'm a teacher, and I asked our K and 1st grade teachers about it last year, and according to standards in Massachusetts, hand dominance and even a proper pencil grip isn't a "standard" until mid K.

    Some things you can do to strengthen his hands is thera-putty - you can pick it up at any OT/specialty school supply store. You can hide beads, coins, and little treasures in it and he has to get them out. Building with blocks that don't connect is also really good for hand eye coordination. Painting on an easel is good (I put down a plastic table cloth on the floor)and paint/bingo dobbers are fun (and less messy) too. You could also try stamps and stamping - I know my 2 year old enjoys those. You can also get foam cut outs that stick on paper, but the kids have to peel off the backings. My daughter would play with those for hours when she was younger.

    I hope these ideas help!

  2. Wow!!! You're amazing. Those are great ideas. I particularly like the idea of hiding "treasures" in the thera-putty. Would regular play-doh work? What's the difference between the thera-putty and play-doh?

    I've tried stamping and coloring and painting. He just doesn't seem interested. The activity holds him for 5 minutes maximum before he's ready to move on. I haven't tried the paint/bingo dobbers. He might like that actually...

    It's good to know they don't expect the hand dominance and pencil grip to settle until mid-K. Very reassuring.

  3. The thera-putty doesn't stick to the item as much and it comes in three different thickness/hardness. It's sort of like a silly putty but more consistent/hard. I'm not sure about how well it washes out of things but a lot of our elementary kids with OT issues use it. Play-doh would work, but it's easier to work with. Some other things is having a water table and filling it with rice or oatmeal and using that to "dig" in and find treasures. My kids' daycare puts things like cut up paper that the kids cut up in there and hide feathers and they search to get them out. During Christmas time, they used cut up wrapping paper and wrapped "presents" for us (usually a sticker or some feathers). I've learned a ton from their daycare - in the winter, we put snow in the water table and my kids had fun for an hour - it was a great snow day idea thanks to their daycare. :)


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