Have you ever been a cheerleader? Wanted to be a cheerleader? Well let me tell you a little secret… We are all cheerleaders. If you’re a parent, a teacher, an SLP, a grandparent, a caregiver, YOU ARE A CHEERLEADER!
Our kids need encouragement. They need cheerleaders in their corner EVERY DAY! For the big accomplishments and the little accomplishments, they need that hip-hip-hooray!
Even as adults, isn’t it a wonderful feeling to know that you have the encouragement and support of family and friends? People who love and care about you and want nothing but the best for you. People who wish, with all their heart, that you find success. Those types of people are the best cheerleaders to have in your life. (Thank-you Mrs. Brown!)
So when I think of a cheerleader, I always think of pom-poms shaking and fun cheers that rhyme. Maybe it’s my previous experience as a cheerleader, (nooooo… throwing back to the 70’s)… but for many years, I have been using pom-poms during my therapy sessions and my kids LOVE them!!!! And because of this, I thought I would share a few pom-pom/cheerleading tips.
You can buy inexpensive pom-poms from Amazon, a local party store, Oriental Trading, etc. For $11, you can get a dozen (6 pairs). Trust me, they will be used a lot!
I like to use these during the beginning and end of a whole group therapy session. When starting a whole group circle activity, I usually use one of my poster activities, like the SCHOOL BUS POSTER, and I will sing HELLO SONGS – to the tune of Frère Jacques or Farmer in the Dell (John is here today, John is here today, Let’s all shout “Hooray!” John is here today). During this time I will be shaking the pom-pom while encouraging everyone in the group to sing, “John is here today…” Sometimes I will let each student come up and hold the pom-pom, shake the pom-pom and sing, “John is here today.” Most of the time, depending on abilities, I will have to do some hand-over-hand assistance (helping them hold and shake). I will also have to encourage the repeating of the song. For students who are not as verbal, I might be just working on the imitation of the shaking or maybe the last word of the rhyme (e.g. TODAY or HOORAY). I will sing the song, then NOT say that particular word and give a moment of wait-time to allow the student to respond (I hope that makes sense). Sometimes I will have multiple colors of pom-poms and ask students to make a choice or request a color… There are lots of ways to use a simple pom-pom to elicit/draw out language.
The second way I use the pom-pom during a whole group circle is at the very end of the lesson. I will say something positive to each student such as, “I like the way you were paying attention today” or “I loved the way you used your words today” or “You did such a good job following directions” (I’ll be a little more specific in regards to what they were doing). Then I’ll hold the pom-pom above their head and say, “hip-hip-hooray!” As I’m saying, “hip-hip-hooray, I will gently shake the pom-pom on top of their head or on the back of their neck. They LOVE this! I usually say, “HIP-HIP” and wait for them to follow with “HOORAY!” If you work with children on the spectrum, you will know that even this simple activity needs to be taught. It is not automatic that they will respond. Just know that the more you do these small types of activities (and use your more verbal students as models) the rest of the kids will eventually respond. Every student I have ever used pom-poms with (within one or two sessions) will respond positively; either with laughs and giggles or requesting that I do it again.
I hope this simple activity brings you and your students lots of language and lots of giggles! And remember, keep on cheering our little ones on!
Warm regards, Monae