We hit the two year mark in Tristan’s clubfoot journey in April. Today, I’m sharing all about our clubfoot journey and where we go from here.
I am so late writing this post. I originally, intended to write this back in April when we hit our two-year mark with Tristan’s birthday, but we had so much going on with COVID quarantine that it totally got away from me.
What Is Clubfoot
For those joining me for the first time, we discovered my youngest son was going to have a clubfoot when I was twenty weeks pregnant at our pre-natal anatomy sonogram. I was devastated to learn my son would have a physical deformity. As parents, we want to protect our children from hardships. Clubfoot is actually a fairly common deformity, affecting one in every 1,000 live births. Children with clubfoot are otherwise normal, but the deformity requires immediate intervention. Clubfoot is treatable but requires several years to heal.
Clubfoot doesn’t cause pain but if left untreated, patients will eventually walk on the sides of their feet or ankles. It is important to note that several famous athletes were born with clubfoot and went on to have successful sports careers. Troy Aikman, Mia Hamm, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Charles Woodson are some athletes that recovered from congenital clubfoot.
You can read all about our Clubfoot Journey in my prior posts From One Clubfoot Mommy to Another and How to Make a Clubfoot Bar Cover. But if you don’t want to read those posts, I’ll bring you up to speed quickly. My son required physical therapy while still in the NICU which required the taping of his foot. Then after we were released from the hospital, we saw an orthopedic surgeon went through serial casting for the first couple of months. This is actually a plaster cast that he had to wear like when you break a bone. Since newborns grow so quickly, we had to have a new one every week. Then we had a small surgery on his Achilles tendon called Achilles Tenotomy.
Finally, we got into the boots and bar stage. At first, the Ponseti boots and bars meant that he had to wear them 23 hours a day. Infants are already hard for any mama to handle, but having your infant restricted in a mental contraption brings all kinds of new challenges. Those weren’t easy days. There were lots of tears in those early days and thankfully, those days feel like a distant memory. Eventually, we moved to wearing the boots and bars at night time and for naps. This definitely made our days feel a little more normal. Once we celebrated his first birthday, we went to night time only. Our little guy was a little delayed in walking compared to other children, but right on a schedule for a baby with clubfoot. He started walking a few months after his first birthday.
Tears In Vain
I still recall when I sat in the orthopedic surgeon’s office and he told me that these clunky metal boots and bars would be normal to my son. He told me the story of a young man who wore the Ponseti boots for four years and finally no longer had to wear them. “Can I still wear them to bed,” the young boy asked. “No buddy,” the doctor said, “you’re all done! You don’t have to wear them anymore.” The little boy appeared sad and said, “but I can’t sleep without them.”
But I can tell you, he is absolutely right. We are now at the halfway mark with my son. We still wear them twelve hours a day (basically at night time). I can tell you, he is totally used to them. It is his normal. He’s always ready to put them on at night and he even has found a way to walk around the crib with them. It’s hard to believe since they aren’t flush on the bottom, but it’s true. He walks around like a cowboy with them.
Where Do We Go From Here
Our two-year appointment was a success. Yes, we still have to wear them for twelve hours at night. The tough news is that we will have to do that until he turns four. The reason we have to wear then for so long is that clubfoot has a habit of regressing. In fact, it is very possible that we can get all the way through our four years of wearing the Ponseti boots and bars and T may need surgery after all. Obviously, we are praying that isn’t the case.
I get asked all the time if he has any trouble walking. Nope! Not one bit. He runs, jumps, leaps, sprints and runs just like any other two-year-old. Anyone who saw him would never think he had any problem or deformity. The other question I get asked often is will he have any lasting effect. The answer is yes, but most people won’t notice. With his foot in the corrected position, he has a little skin that wrinkles on the outside of his ankle.
Additionally, T’s foot is shaped a little differently. One of the effects of clubfoot is that it widens the foot giving it a clublike appearance. Unfortunately, all of our therapy still does not change the width of his foot. Thankfully, T’s foot is only mildly wider than his other foot. But it does mean he will have to wear wide shoes for the rest of his life. Most people would probably never even notice.
Thank you for allowing me to share some of our clubfoot journey with you. If you are a parent with a child who has been diagnosed with clubfoot let me reassure you. Clubfoot is fixable and your child will be just fine! One day, it will all be behind you.
Whether you are homeschooling or trying to supplement your child’s ability to read, you’ll love these free preschool sight word flashcards. Simply print them using your home computer.
Welcome, friend. We’ve started homeschooling already this year and my boys are doing awesome! My oldest is now in Kindergarten and we have been working hard on learning to read. Can I be honest with you? I was terrified to teach reading. We’ve been working on it over the summer with the help of Hooked On Phonics. If you would like to know what else we are using, be sure to read my posts Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum and Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.
My son is doing well reading emergent readers. I ended up creating some flashcards to help him and I thought I would share them here on the blog. Let me share why I think these free preschool sight word flashcards are helpful to your new reader.
Is Your Child Ready to Read?
Although this post is labeled for pre-schoolers, honestly it is for any child that is a beginner reader. “Level 1” just doesn’t have the same ring as Preschool. I thought about trying to teach my son to read in preschool, but I did not feel he was quite ready. How do you know your child is ready to tackle reading? Believe it or not, children give us clues that it may be time to start introducing reading on their own
They are motivated. Children who ask to learn to read or show signs of motivation to read are probably ready to put forth the effort it takes to learn reading.
They know how to navigate a book. Children should have already grasped the concept of how reading works like starting on the first page, going from the top to the bottom of the page and words going from left to right. They may start pointing to words and letters on the page. Additionally, they may even point and ask what the word says.
They recognize letters. Children should be thoroughly familiar with recognizing all letters of the alphabet.
They should have a good understanding of phonics. Kids should understand what a rhyme is. They should know what a syllable is and should have a good understanding of the phonics of single letters.
If your child is not there yet, don’t fret! Children learn at different stages. Some may need more familiarity with letters or letter sounds before they move onto reading. That is perfectly okay. Over the summer, my oldest started to show motivation, something he had lacked all through preschool. He would sit in his bed and pretend to read, repeating phrases he had memorized from the book. That was the main reason I knew he was finally ready. He was showing interest and motivation…finally.
Using Sight Words
Sight words are words that are short and easy enough for your child to recognize and read without having to sound it out. Sight words also make up 50-70% of the sentences we use all the time. So learning how to read sight words can immediately build confidence when your child starts reading emergent readers. Sight words help build the foundation for more challenging, complex words.
To use these flashcards, print them out on white card stock on your home computer. Make sure that your printer is set to full bleed and that it doesn’t shrink down the pages or the alignment may be off. Trim down following the trim guides. If you prefer, you can laminate them for extra sturdiness.
Sit in a distraction-free area and show your child the flashcards. Model the word. Have your child repeat the words back to you. If your child loses focus, redirect them to look at the card. Also, if your child struggles with the enunciation of the world, hold the card up to your mouth so they can see how you are making the sounds with your lips. If your child begins to become frustrated or very disinterested, stop and resume another day. Young children have a short attention span and you don’t want this to be an awful experience.
For best results, do this daily. When you feel your child is ready, challenge your child to read the words by himself or herself. If he or she is incorrect, I suggest not telling them they are wrong as this can crush budding confidence. Instead, keep it positive. Simply model the word correctly by saying, “The word is…” Then tell them they did well for trying. Always boost your child’s confidence whenever you can.
If your child is practicing handwriting and you feel they are proficient enough to start writing full words, you can always give them sight words to trace or copy. This will help them become even more aware of helping them memorize them. I have a printable you can download. The words are printed in light grey and your child can trace the sight words with their favorite pencil or crayon.
I hope that these help you and your little one enjoy the beginnings of your reading journey. If you would like some other fun printables to do with your kids take a look at my other posts like Valentine’s Day Bingo and Printable Halloween Memory Game.
Need some help teaching preschool at home? Today I’m sharing the resources we used for our preschool homeschool curriculum.
Today I’m sharing some of the resources we just finished using for preschool back in May. I’ve had lots of friends reach out to me about homeschooling their preschool child because of Coronavirus, so I decided to sit down and provide all of our resources. You can take a look at the Kindergarten curriculum we are using for my oldest this year in the post, Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.
Homeschooling isn’t as scary as it sounds, at least not at the preschool level. Not only will you child be learning lots of things, but it is also an incredible bonding opportunity for the two of you.
Most states don’t have regulations for homeschool preschool because preschool typically isn’t compulsory, but always check your state regulations before getting started to make sure the curriculum you choose complies with state guidelines and prepares them thoroughly for kindergarten. You can find your state regulations here.
A Preschool Introduction
Before I begin, I want to clarify that young children at the preschool level learn best by doing and by learning through play, not textbooks. I organized our school year by unit studies. Meaning we focused on a particular theme for a week and did activities around them. If you are interested, I’ll provide our unit studies below
A typical preschool day for us includes the following:
Math (number recognition, counting, patterns, reinforcement of shapes and colors)
Handwriting (how to hold a pencil correctly, learning how to write numbers, letters and basic shapes)
Reading (Reading favorite children’s stories)
Bible Study (simply reading a bible story from your favorite children’s bible)
Phonics: Letter recognition, letter sounds
Arts & Crafts (fine motor activity like coloring, painting, drawing, paper plate crafts, etc)
Science (informal introduction to our body, animals, plants, space, etc)
One of the best teaching tools I’ve ever found are little animal counters (called manipulatives). You can use them in many different activities. I have found that children learn math best when they can visualize it. That’s what makes these counters invaluable. My oldest, now in Kindergarten, is grasping the concept of subtraction and addition thanks to these. Honestly, I think this is about all you need to teach math in preschool with the exception of learning to write and identify numbers. Here are some of the activities you can do in preschool just with counters.
SORT BY COLOR: Color sorts challenge your child not just to select the correct color but also eliminate the incorrect colors. It provides you with a way to gauge how well they really know their colors and how well they can distinguish between colors that are similar such as blue and green, orange and red, purple and blue, etc.
COUNTING: Obviously, you can use colored counters to simply count. Most counters come in packs of around 100 making it great to count all the way to the 100.
SKIP COUNTING: Once your child masters counting, they can learn to skip count with the counters. Like counting by twos, by fives, and by tens Many children don’t learn this until Kindergarten so it’s okay if they aren’t ready for it in pre-school.
PATTERNS: Counters can also be a tool for critical thinking. Identifying patterns is an early Math skill. With colored counters, you can create patterns (e.g. blue-blue, green-green, blue-blue, green…) then have your child finish the pattern. Or you can remove a counter and ask your child which color is missing. Once your child has mastered identifying patterns, challenge him or her to create their own patterns.
POSITIONS and QUANTIFIERS: Counters are also a great way for your child to learn positional directions like above, below, first, last, top, middle, bottom, right, left and quantifiers like more, less, greater, less than, etc. Lay them out in different directions and then ask your child to identify the one on the right, left, on the bottom, etc.
If you prefer a workbook/textbook experience for Math, we love Horizons. We are using it for Kindergarten and my son loves it because it incorporates hands-on and textbook learning.
I wish I had known about this program when first teaching my son to write. We tried multiple programs and every program left both of us in tears! My oldest was very resistant to writing. He was great at pre-writing activities, but had no desire to use a pencil. I had heard lots of great things about this program so in the final months of our preschool year I changed our handwriting curriculum to Handwriting Without Tears. The results were amazing! We made more progress in the first month of the program than we had in the prior 10 months of the school year. (We homeschool year round). In three months, Jack was finally writing his own name without any help or prompting. I honestly can’t recommend this program enough. Now he begs to do his handwriting first before other subjects. It has totally changed our school day.
One nice thing about the program is that it breaks the letters down into individual strokes for your child. Instead of just trying to copy the letter in full, children color and fill in a picture using the strokes that will be needed to make the letter. Then they’ll try to trace and write the letter on the next page. Over the book, it increases in difficulty. Struggling writers are often frustrated by the precision and concentration needed to write small. So the book has students practice on a larger scale in order to build confidence before asking for precision and control.
If you can afford it, splurge on the chalkboard. It made the lessons extra fun for my son and he loved the novelty of doing extra practice on the blackboard.
Many preschoolers are not ready for reading on their own yet. That’s okay. The way to encourage your child to read is to read to them. Reading to your child every day can foster life long literacy. Just one or two storybooks a day is all you need. I normally tie our books into our weekly unit study. For instance, if we are studying ocean week, we read at least one ocean-themed book a day. You don’t need to spend a fortune. The library is a great resource for books. Many libraries even allow you to search and reserve books online so you aren’t spending a ton of time searching for them at the library. You can see some of the classical books we are reading through preschool and kindergarten here in my post Classical Books for Kindergarteners. Don’t worry, they are perfect for preschoolers too.
Also, you can keep track of all the books you read with your child with my FREE Reading Log Printable.
Learning to read starts with learning the sounds of the alphabet. It’s really that simple. There are lots of ways to teach that. My son learned the alphabet really well by three. Then after his third birthday, we started to work on all the sounds the alphabet made. It is still hard for children to start putting the sounds together into words. That’s where phonics programs really help.
There are lots of phonics programs out there. Ultimately, you will need to choose what is right for you. Explode the Code is a very popular choice for homeschoolers and it is heavy in writing and drawing as well. A good friend of ours taught their twins how to read using nothing more than the book entitled, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (We are also using that book as a supplement) A comprehensive program that some friends have used is Little Champion Early Reading, but it is on the pricey side as far as programs go. There is another popular program entitled All About Reading. And of course, there is the very popular Hooked On Phonics. We are currently using Hooked On Phonics and we started at the Pre-school level.
The main reason we chose Hooked On Phonics is that it has been around for a very long time (my own brother used it) and the price is in the middle price range of phonics programs. We used it all through pre-school and now we are using it in Kindergarten and my son loves to read the emergent readers. More than anything, it has helped him become interested in reading instead of resistant.
And that is the best kind of advice I can give you when it comes to homeschooling. If you or your child are becoming increasingly frustrated, more often than not, the curriculum just isn’t a good fit. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working. You know you have hit the sweet spot when your child is engaged, willing, and making progress.
Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts are very important for preschoolers for a variety of reasons. First, arts and crafts are fine motor activities. Having to use glue, scissors, crayons, paint, etc, fine-tunes their fine motor skills which inevitably helps with writing. It gives them an opportunity to use their budding imaginations and is also a sensory experience. All you need is a small list of supplies and the possibilities are endless! Honestly, we just found a craft every day on Pinterest that coincided with our theme.
Preschoolers should also be mastering the use of scissors. By doing arts and crafts they will get plenty of practice, but if you still feel like your child needs more practice (like mine did) you can purchase a scissor practice book. I’ll provide some links for art supplies because honestly, Target is one of the more reasonable places for school supplies.
There isn’t a lot of resources for preschool Science. We just bought a few educational Science related things to help foster a love for Science. Children at this age really just need to be able to distinguish between living and non-living things. They also should be able to recognize and name body parts, basic things in nature (plants & trees, animal types, the weather, and the seasons). Keep in mind, lots of Science can be learned by simply including the subject in your daily reading.
For instance, we purchased this book with 20 STEM pre-school activities. We also received this awesome body book from our Aunt and we decided to incorporate it into our studies by going through a page or two a day. My son became totally obsessed with the human body. I’m shocked at what my son learned by going through it. Then we got a Science lab kit and we found some fun kitchen experiments. We are using it again this year for Kindergarten.
We also used a Pre-K Science workbook by DK Workbooks. It isn’t very in-depth, and I really wish it was in color instead of black and white, but it does include many of the basic concepts that preschoolers should know.
If you are religious and you want to start introducing God into your studies I have found at this age all that is needed is to read a bible story and ask your child some questions. In Kindergarten we are using The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. However, the wording may be above your preschooler’s vocabulary. My oldest child wasn’t quite ready for it when we started preschool, but was ready around Kindergarten. What a difference a year makes in a child’s vocabulary! Therefore, the other two we used at the younger preschooler age was 365 Bible Stories and Prayers and The Beginner’s Bible.
Before You Go
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit today and read about our preschool homeschool curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll try to respond promptly.
If you are nervous about homeschooling, don’t worry. You and your child will do great. It can be a little scary at first. As parents, we want to make sure our children aren’t falling behind in school, but I promise it isn’t as scary as it seems. Children learn so much by playing and by you explaining things to them. So take every opportunity to do that and try not to stress over it too much.