Audiobooks are a fun and engaging way for your child to practice their listening comprehension and literacy skills. Find a book that is of interest to your child and listen to the book together. You can stop the book a few times to ask your child questions about what has happened, make predictions for what will happen next, and to summarize what has happened so far. After finishing the book, your child can retell the story to someone who did not listen to it, illustrate the story, or act it out.
It can be difficult to get your middle or high school student to practice their speech and language skills. Kim, author of the Activity Tailor blog, has provided some great activities to engage your older student and make practicing their speech and language skills fun. She has suggested creating stories, playing card games, using song lyrics, and using Siri or Alexa to help your student practice their speech and language skills. Check out her blog to learn more!
Research has explored the connection between a child’s level of curiosity and their academic success. Researchers from University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital and the Center for Human Growth and Development found that kindergarteners who were described as curious demonstrated increased success in reading and math. This supports the need to encourage children to be curious about the world around them. There are many things you can do as a parent to cultivate curiosity in your child. The best place to start is to find something that is of interest to your child. Then, provide ways to explore and learn more about this topic. If your child shows an interest in building with blocks/Legos, you can find books that explain how buildings are constructed. You can also look for “blueprints” your child can follow to build a specific structure. While your child is engaged in these activities, you can highlight new vocabulary words, focus on following directions, have your child summarize what they learned, and work on problem solving skills. You will be promoting their curiosity and targeting speech and language skills all while engaging in an activity your child enjoys.
Curiosity Associated with Higher Academic Achievement, The ASHA Leader, July 2018, Vol. 23, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.23072018.14. https://leader.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2687285
Technology is a part of our everyday lives. It is important to set boundaries and limits to children’s screen time so that their communication skills do not fall behind. In a poll of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologist, the biggest concerns with children’s frequent screen time use include fewer opportunities for social interactions, delays in social development, delays in speech and/or language skills, and academic challenges. These concerns are present because children have fewer opportunities to hear language modeled by parents/peers and to practice their language, articulation, and social skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has established screen time guidelines to help parents balance technology and real-world experiences. They recommend no screen time (video chatting excluded) for the first 18 months, joint screen time of learning programs for children 18-24 months of age, 1 hour per day of learning program screen time for children 2-5 years of age, and to set up family guidelines for children 6 years and older that detail the amount and type of screen time allowed per day. In addition, the AAP recommends designating screen free zones and times. Here are a few screen-free activities to do with your child to encourage speech and language skills: go to the library and pick out books to read together, find a recipe your child can help you make, complete an art or science project together, or go to the park. By doing these types of screen-free activities, child will be learning and practicing important language and social skills.
It can be difficult to get your child to practice their speech homework at home. There are some ways to make their homework a little more fun and motivating. You can turn their homework into a search and find game. Make binoculars out of a paper towel roll and have your child search for their speech sounds or vocabulary words. When they spot one of their words, they have to tell you what they found. This game can be used with any speech and language homework your child has. This is just one way to make practicing speech and language at home a little more fun.
Leis, Kelly. Let’s Go on a Word Safari. The ASHA Leader, July 2018, Vol. 23, 6. doi:10.1044/leader.GL.23072018.6.
Research has shown that children given phonological awareness instruction in their first year of school have increased literacy skills. This was shown to be true for children with and without language disorders. After 10 weeks of phonological awareness instruction, these 5-year old children demonstrated greater gains in phonological awareness, reading, and spelling tasks compared to 5-year-olds that only received phonics-based literacy instruction. This study found that only 6% of the children who received phonological awareness instruction continued to demonstrate decoding difficulties. In contrast, 26% of the children who received phonics-based literacy instruction continued to have difficulty decoding following the 10 weeks of instruction. This research highlights the importance of understanding the sounds associated with letters and words for reading success.
Classroom Phonological Awareness Instruction Improved Literacy Outcomes. The ASHA Leader, August 2013, Vol. 18, 36. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.18082013.36.
Research completed by Anna V. Sosa, has shown that toddlers attempt communication more often and hear more words from their parents when playing with non-electronic toys versus electronic toys. Toys that do the talking for toddlers or parents don’t allow as many opportunities for spontaneous language and interaction. Use of these electronic toys should be limited and more opportunities to play with non-electronic toys with parents should be encouraged. Some examples of non-electronic toys to consider are puzzles, books, blocks, dolls, and race car tracks. When playing with your toddler, use simple sentences (car go fast), ask questions (what is it?), narrate what you and your child are doing (open door), give directions (give me blue), and use repetitive language your toddler can begin to imitate (ready, set, go). Playing with these types of toys will increase the opportunities your toddler has to learn language all while playing with you!
Basic, Non-Electronic Toys May Be Better for Parent-Toddler Communication. The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21032016.12. https://leader.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2498630