Setting Your Targets
(from Lesson Plans for Toddlers and Preschoolers)
We do a lot of talking about “Deciding on your targets” when we discuss setting up play routines. When I meet up with my families for a session, I find that sometimes they have problems choosing and sticking with a target. Some targets are more general in nature, and some are very specific. First, know that there is no way to set a target unless you first think about ASSESSMENT!
Assessment may seem like something that professionals do and then tell you about, but assessment is also your task as you spend the most time with your child and have the clearest picture of how they are functioning. Those formal assessments that your professional team does are important too, but next steps for your targets are really based on function first.
Here are some questions to get you started. Pick up a pencil and write your answers!
- What environmental sounds does my child notice?
- What words or vocal play does my child respond to?
- How attentive is my child to our play activities?
- How well does my child respond to the structure of our time together?
- How does my child demonstrate knowledge of sounds, words, or phrases?
How does my child vocalize:
- Two-Word Combinations
- Short Phrases
- Simple Sentences
- Complex Sentences
What milestones in listening and talking am I looking to as next steps?
If your child is in a school program for children who are deaf, they are important partners in building in the listening behaviors and turn-taking skills that are so important during this stage of learning to listen and talk. If your child goes to a regular daycare or is at home with you, you may be primarily responsible for helping your child master the art of learning through structured play. This means joint attention, sharing, waiting, and accepting that you as the parent are driving the bus! Especially if your child is at home with you, the older they are, the more structure they must accept in order to make progress. Free play or Center Activities are developmentally appropriate and provide many learning opportunities, too. However, a child who is deaf may not catch up/keep up with hearing peers if they are learning “on the fly.”
Create a picture chart if you are home schooling a preschooler. Try these suggestions. Make a picture for “hello” song/circle time. Make another picture for “music and movement.” Make a picture for “art.” Make a picture for “table work.” Make a picture for “snack.” Make a picture for “centers” and finally one for “good-bye.” Decide the order that works for your child. Decide how many items you will use for table work. Introduce your child to the chart. As you complete each activity, allow the child to pull the picture off the chart and put it in a container--“All Done.”
Here are some targets for children who are at the two-word stage:
- Understands question forms “where” and “what’s that?”
- Uses “me, my, mine.”
- Understands some locations such as “in, on, under.”
- Starts using 3-word phrases/simple sentences.
- Uses “ing” such as “Daddy mowing.”
- Asks “where, what-doing, what color, what?”
Here are some targets for children already using short sentences:
- Understands “one, all.”
- Uses “he/she.”
- Asks, “What happened?”
- Uses an implied infinitive, “Gonna” (going to), “wanna” (want to).
- Uses 3-4 word sentences.
- Uses plurals and possessives
- Understands “now, soon, later”
- Answers “how many, what color, what?”
These are at least a few that can get you started. For all children, vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary! You are looking to add hundreds of words in the coming year.
What do you do? Listen to your child and take notes. Whatever they are doing consistently, and in a variety of settings, consider Mastered. Step up! Anything they do for your model, maybe even occasionally spontaneously, consider good targets for now. Those items you do not observe are good for expansion.
Once you have chosen your target(s) (not too many at once), develop different play scenarios that allow you to work on a single target over and over. For example, if your child knows the verbs “eat, drink, run, walk, jump, kick, roll, color, push,” collect pictures or objects and work on “ing.” Baby is eating. The boy is kicking. The horse is running.
For a new vocabulary word, plan to look at pictures, go on a discovery walk, do an art activity, read a book, all with the new word. Use that word at least 22 times in a short session.
How many of these words does your child use?
Tree, leaves, grass, branch, pick, rake, sun, sky, warm, cool, windy, rainy, blow, catch, cut, fall (down), find, hold, take?
Apply them to our theme of colors and develop some targets. Be sure you are capitalizing on your books and experiences to build vocabulary. Capitalize on things that interest your child.