Vocabulary Development

Studies show that there are more words in the English Language than could ever be directly taught in a lifetime. Research shows that typically developing kids by age 12 have 50,000 words in their expressive vocabulary. The vocabulary that kids don’t learn at school, they learn in other environments. Research shows that most vocabulary is actually acquired incidentally through indirect exposure rather than direct instruction.

A research study appearing in the ASHA Journal suggests that the size of a child’s oral vocabulary at 2 years of age can be a leading predictor of their readiness for kindergarten and beyond. These findings propose that the vocabulary kids have in early life facilitates what they achieve in later life.

What is vocabulary?

Vocabulary is an umbrella term for words we have heard, words we have seen in print, words we understand, and words we use verbally. It is often said that a person’s vocabulary is never complete; it is always evolving, expanding, and deepening and is very much a by-product of lifelong learning. Developing a child’s vocabulary involves more than just use of a dictionary. Many different strategies and approaches for vocabulary development can be implemented from the comfort of your own home and in other natural environments!

Tips for parents-Developing vocabulary at home:

1. Provide language rich opportunities for learning (kids who have more opportunities to learn naturally have larger vocabularies than kids who have limited experiences. Language-rich opportunities to do as a family could include: going outdoors, taking a trip, going to a museum, building, cooking, playing a sport, attending a performance, etc.)

2. Make screen time educational (the use of technology for educational purposes is endless! Bridging technology with educational purposes ensures kids are using screen time appropriately and meaningfully. Encourage your child to listen to audio books, play word games, solve word puzzles, and watch educational videos.)

3. Label objects in your home and community (verbal or written labels can increase the frequency at which children hear and see new vocabulary concepts in the world around them.)

4. Engage in interactive reading experiences (whether you read to them, they read to you, or you read together, research shows that vocabulary instruction and reading go hand in hand. Children’s books often contain twice as many rarely used words as conversations do. ” Research shows that the best readers read most and the worst readers read least. Encouraging your child to be an avid reader is one of the best gifts you can give for ensuring they have academic success.

5. Apply your child’s interests to teaching moments (when children like what they are learning about, they will want to do more learning. Take your child’s interests of a certain topic and expand upon them by teaching them new words and concepts that relate and further their understanding!)

6. Review school work (children need multiple opportunities and repeated exposure to develop long term memory of concepts and terms they are learning. Reference your child’s spelling lists, school books, and homework to make the connections between what they are learning in school.)

7. Think big picture (as a parent, modeling diverse vocabulary for your child is key! Focus on more than common nouns by discussing lesser known verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to help their inventory of vocabulary grow.)

8. Engage in meaningful conversation.(research shows that parents who are stressed, overburdened, less engaged, may talk, read, and otherwise interact with their children less frequently, resulting in their children acquiring smaller oral vocabularies. Talking to your kids in even the smallest ways can help their word knowledge expand.

9. Teach word learning strategies (making word associations (synonyms/antonyms), analyzing word parts (root words, prefixes, suffixes), and emphasizing different parts of speech can teach kids how to infer the meaning of unknown words on their own. )

10. Make learning visual: (draw pictures for your kids to teach the meaning of words. Having a visual reference like a picture or drawing can help kids make connections between what they hear and see and can help them establish a memory of words. A picture or drawing can provide background knowledge to fall back when they need reminders of word meaning.)

 

References:

ASHA Leader, “There’s a Book for That!”-Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP December 2017

ASHA Leader, “Big Vocabularies in 2-Year-Olds May Predict Kindergarten Success.”-January 2016

https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/vocabulary-resource-page/

Headphone Use Linked to Hearing Loss in Children

A recent study found that children who listen to audio via headphones have a significantly higher risk of noise-induced hearing loss compared to children who do not. As children begin to use technology more frequently (e.g. games on phones, tablets, video games, etc.), they may want to use headphones in order to play independently. However, it was found that children who use headphones were twice as likely to have hearing loss compared to children who did not use headphones at all, noting the significance of noise exposure at a young age. The study indicated that limiting the amount of time using headphones and lowering the volume may only eliminate the risk marginally. Noise-related hearing loss presents itself as muffled sounds or distant ringing in the ears. These symptoms may be temporary, however, can become more permanent with repeated exposure to noise.

Parents should try to encourage children to listen to audio without headphones by including siblings in a shared activity or by eliminating background noise so that the child can hear their activity without headphones. Checking in with your child to avoid a high volume may also be beneficial. Limiting a child’s screen time may support a decreased use of headphones overall!

 

Reference: bit.ly/port-music

Keeping Your Voice Healthy

Voice is so important to our ability to communicate and express ourselves. Many people don’t realize that there are behaviors that can help or hurt normal vocal functioning. The National Institute of Health provide a list of helpful vocal hygiene tips to prevent voice problems:

o   Drink water: The vocal folds move best when the body is well-hydrated,

o   Limit caffeine: Caffeine is drying to the entire body. Cutting back on these drinks can help keep your vocal folds hydrated.

o   Don’t overuse your voice:Doing a lot of talking, especially in noisy situations (sporting events, restaurants, bars, parties, social gatherings, industrial settings) can be tiring for your vocal folds. Give yourself voice breaks or moments when you don’t use your voice for a while to let your voice rest.

o   Avoid extremes: Try not to use extremes of your vocal range, such as screaming or whispering. Both can put stress on your voice.

o   Avoid throat-clearing: Throat clearing and coughing are traumatic to the vocal folds and can contribute to a vocal injury.

o   Use a humidifier: This is particularly important for the winter months when the air is dry. Generally inhaling or breathing steam helps the voice box stay moist and can be very soothing to irritated vocal folds.

o   Practice good breathing: Take deep breaths from the chest to support talking or singing. Don’t rely on the throat alone to avoid straining the voice.

o   Consider the effects of medication: Many medications, such as cold and allergy medications, are drying to the body. Try to avoid these medications to help your body stay hydrated or drink extra water while taking them.

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-voice

Communicative Gestures Used as a Predictor for Later Language

A variety of gestures have been shown to be a predictor for later language development in children with autism, children with Down Syndrome, and typically developing children. Gestures are described as actions produced with the intent to communicate and are usually expressed using the fingers, hands, arms, and facial features. Early use of gestures has been linked to increased language production, language comprehension, and object naming. A child’s joint attention skills, such as giving or showing objects may also predict later language skills. Lack of joint attention behaviors between the ages of 2 and 3 years old may be an indication of developmental deficits.

The frequency of gesture use as a form of intentional communication is an important factor when identifying children with communication deficits. Typically developing children use gestures to communicate about one time per minute by 12-months, 18-month-olds about two times per minute, and 24-month-olds about five times per minute. The amount of gestures used by infants is related to later verbal development.

Playing familiar games, singing songs, and performing routines can encourage children to utilize gestures as a form of early communication. Songs such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” or using hand gestures to signal bubbles popping can become interactive opportunities for children. Communicative gestures in these familiar contexts can later be generalized to new contexts.

Tips for Talking with Young Children who Stutter

Many young children go through a stage between the ages of 2-5 years when they may exhibit some stuttering. The first signs of stuttering tend to appear when a child is about18-24 months old as there is a burst in vocabulary and kids are starting to put words together to form longer utterances. In many cases, stuttering goes away on its own by age 5; in others, it lasts longer. Whether or not your child exhibits stuttering behaviors, here are some great tips to think about when you’re talking with him/her.

1. Speak in an unhurried way, pausing frequently. Model slow, relaxed speech for your child.

2. Reduce the number of questions you ask. Try commenting on what your child has said.

3. Use your facial expressions and other body language to show that you are listening.

4. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child. During this time, let the child choose and direct you in activities.

5. Help family members learn to take turns talking and listening. Decrease interruptions!

6. Observe the way you interact with your child. Try to increase those times that give your child the message that you are listening to him/her and he/she has plenty of time to talk. Try to decrease criticisms, rapid speech patterns, interruptions, and questions.

7. Above all, convey that you accept your child as he/she is. This support is so important!

https://www.stutteringhelp.org/7-tips-talking-your-child

Facilitating Communication with your Toddler

 

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

Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant, PhD with Tom Fields-Meyer.

Dr. Prizant, an internationally renowned autism expert, suggests a new and exciting shift in the world of Autism. In this book, his main focus is that “the most successful approaches to autism don’t aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual’s experience and what underlies the behavior.” Dr. Prizant sees behaviors of Autism as part of a range of strategies in coping with a world that feels overwhelming and intense. He suggests that we should not curb these behaviors but rather enhance these children’s abilities and build on their strengths. He argues that attempts to get rid of these behaviors of Autism may actually interfere with important development of the child. Check out this book to learn more!

Language Opportunities in the Kitchen!

 

When you are cooking in the kitchen, many of your children are curious and want to help.  It is often difficult to have a child participate in the cooking process due to safety and height of counters. It is also hard to cook with an active toddler running around the house. This has all changed! A new product has been developed that allows your child to be at the level of the countertop safely. Whether or not your child is old enough to actively cook, the kitchen is a place where you can model/incorporate many language skills. Many companies make a version of this product and we have even seen people making their own.  The kitchen is a beautiful place for language so we wanted to share this product!

https://www.amazon.com/Guidecraft-Kids-Kitchen-Helper-Adjustable/dp/B000SQNAQC/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_bs_img_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=DDNQSTAAQ7TCKPQHETR0

Home Literacy Activities and Executive Functioning

Researchers from the University of Washington recently conducted a 5-year longitudinal study of 241 families to study home literacy and its impacts. The participants included a group of first- to fifth graders and a group of third- to seventh graders. The study found that children with higher reading and writing achievement at school engaged in more reading and writing activities at home. Parental rating scales also indicated that children’s ability to self-regulate attention spans remained consistent throughout the study, however, executive functioning skills including goal-setting, often improved.

Getting Ready for Your Child’s IEP Meeting

With the start of each new school year comes discussions about Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings. Some families may feel nervous about these meetings, especially those that are new to the process. However, IEP meetings are very important to your child’s education as the team prepares for a successful school year full of growing and learning! If you’re unsure about what to expect, you’re not alone! This website (link below) provides a collection of helpful tips, tools, and checklists to prepare for your child’s IEP meeting. Check out these great resources including how to get organized, questions you should ask, what to bring to the meeting, legal FAQs, and so much more!

https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/iep-boot-camp-getting-ready-for-your-childs-iep-meeting