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You know I am all about fluency. Because a functional skill is a fluent skill. I get asked a lot how to work on fluency with our foundational level leaners and younger students. You still can! Many of these students are working on skills like imitation, following one step directions, and improving fine and gross motor movements. All of these can be practiced within fluency instruction. By increasing the fluency of these skills, students will be more component and independent completing these activities!

Fine Motor Fluency

If you have a student who is currently working on fine motor skills, a fine motor fluency program is a good next step once they are independently reaching, grasping, squeezing, pressing, twisting, pulling, pushing, releasing etc (those Big 6+6 skills we talked about!). Bringing a skill to fluency is an integral when considering making that skill functional. If your student can grasp and release in quick succession, this is likely to affect how quickly they learn how to zip up their jacket, or tie their shoes, pick up a pencil when it falls, or a type on a paragraph on a keyboard. Whatever tasks your student has been working on, add the timer and fluency component.

If a student is working on grasp release with coins, track how fluently he is completing this skill by timing it. Here are the material you need:

Piggy bank with opening at the bottom, and pennies: Ensure you use a piggy bank with a small slit at the top that you can easily remove the coins from after each fluency timing. Pennies are small enough to allow the student to practice that pincer grip.

Timer: A key component to any fluency program is the use of timed sessions (often referred to as a ‘timing’). You usually want to keep timings short (e.g., 15 seconds) and keep the time constant. That way you can do multiple timings within the general instructional time and multiple fluency programs can be combined.

Data Sheet: This allows you to keep track of how many coins your student can get into the bank before the timer goes off. This will tell you whether or not they are improving (going faster over time).

Reinforcers: Provide brief access to a preferred item/toy or a sample of a preferred snack while you quickly count their number of coins in the bank.

Gross Motor Fluency

You can run the same type of program using gross motor imitation. With imitation it’s important to accomplish the movement immediately. This program looks at how quickly a student can imitate gross motor movements and is a great way to track attending, imitation, and gross motor skills all at once!

Things you’ll need

Your Gross Motor List: This is for the instructor. Make a list of all the motions you know your kiddo can successfully imitate. Start with a list of actions when seated (e.g., clap hands, arms up, arms down, chicken dance, hands on cheek, touch nose, hands on head, hands on ears, etc.). Aim for a list of at least 20 that you can shuffle around during the instruction time. Also, try to select moves that are easy to execute and are all in the same area of the body. Review this list immediately before starting your session so you have an idea of which combination of movement’s you’re gonna do.

Timer: A key component to any fluency program is the use of timed sessions (often referred to as a ‘timing’). You usually want to keep timings short (e.g., 15 seconds) and keep the time constant. That way you can do multiple timings within the general instructional time and multiple fluency programs can be combined.

Data Sheet: You wanna make sure that you are tracking how many actions your kiddo imitates correctly during each timing. That way you can monitor his/her progress and see whether or not they are improving. You can even put these data on a line graph and see for yourself if there is an overall increase in the number of corrects over time. If there is no significant change, this simply means you may need to adjust the program a bit. If there is a significant increase in corrects, but the student seems to be performing at the highest point they seem to be able to go (hitting that high number consistently across days), then it may mean its time move to a next program (e.g., movements while standing, using legs and arms, etc.).

Clicker: During a timing, it may be a challenge for the instructor to keep track of what movement is being done correctly/incorrectly while going through a series of moves within a short time. As such, a clicker is an awesome tool! Simply hold the clicker in one hand while going through the motions, and click whenever the student imitates correctly. At the end of the session, check your clicker for the total corrects :). See counters on Amazon here.

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