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.
November is National Picture Book Month, and the perfect time to introduce some new stories or well-loved classics to your child.
A 2016 study by Dominic Massaro, psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggests that while the amount of spoken language parents use with their children can increase their vocabulary, reading to them is even more effective.
Picture books contain richer language and less common vocabulary than we use in our everyday speech. Giving a simple definition for unfamiliar words found in a story and pointing to the illustrations will help your child understand what the word means and help to build their vocabulary. You can make learning new words even more fun by acting out or demonstrating what a word means. Make shared picture book reading part of your daily routine. If you have older children, they can share books with their younger siblings-or you can all read together. Taking turns, listening and asking questions are all skills that will help your child when he starts learning to read.
The Books4All Blog has great book recommendations and suggestions for how to use them to promote language development. Check out their website here: http://all4mychild.com/books/
For children with language and learning differences, reading comprehension can be a significant challenge. Reading comprehension skills can be an indicator of academic and psychosocial outcomes for school aged children. Children with language disorders often demonstrate difficulty answering inferential questions compared to typically developing peers. Inferencing abilities often are associated with vocabulary knowledge, single word reading accuracy, grammatical skill, and verbal working memory. There are two main types of inferences that are important to target in speech-language therapy: cohesive inferences and elaborative inferences. Cohesive inferences are conclusions drawn by establishing links between story elements within the text, whereas elaborative inferences are conclusions drawn by adding in background knowledge to the information provided in the text. When reading with your child, try to discuss how to “fill in the gaps”, make connections between story elements, and try to find relationships between words!
Gough Kenyon, S. M., Palikara, O., & Lucas, R. M. (2018). Explaining Reading Comprehension in Children With Developmental Language Disorder: The Importance of Elaborative Inferencing. J Speech Lang Hear Res, [Advance online publication], 1-15. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0416
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!
Another football-filled fall is here, and many fans and non-fans alike are prompted to think about this beloved national sport and its affect on the millions of kids and adults that play. For many who study the brain and how injuries affect its functioning, football clearly poses risks with all of the impact the head sustains over the course of a career.
The Concussion Foundation defines CTE as: “A degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells.” CTE is essentially a degenerative brain disorder associated with repeated head trauma.
As more research in this area is conducted, the link between football and traumatic brain injury continues to strengthen. Now, one of the largest studies on the subject to date finds that 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players had CTE. A new study by Mez, Daneshvar, and Kiernan 2017 published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017examined the brains of 202 deceased people who had played football at various levels, from high school to the NFL. Results revealed that CTE existed in 87% of all the players and 99% of the NFL players.
Many people who have CTE were reported to have behavioral or mood symptoms, as well as well as issues with memory, executive functioning, and attention. It has also been reported that conversational skills can be negatively impacted. A study by Berisha et al. (2017) “tracked a steeper decline in vocabulary size and other verbal skills in 10 players who spoke at news conferences over an eight-year period, compared with 18 coaches and executives who never played professional football and who also spoke in news conferences during the same period.” While more research needs to be done in this area, evidence seems to suggest we need to consider the effect of high-impact sports on communication.
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.)
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
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!
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.
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.
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!