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.
Now that the weather has warmed up, you and your children may be eager to get outside and enjoy what the city has to offer. During these outings, you can encourage carry-over of your child’s specific speech and language goals (e.g., expanding vocabulary, formulating sentences, describing interesting objects, retelling events, answering questions, practicing words with certain speech sounds) while having fun with the family!
- For an outing just beyond your front door, take a nature walk with your child and discuss what you see. Take notice of plants growing, bugs crawling, birds chirping, and animal tracks.
- It’s always fun and free to visit Lincoln Park Zoo. Go on Wednesdays and Fridays for free sing-alongs with Mr. Singer.
- Take advantage of free museum days for Illinois residents. Check out Sue the T. Rex at the Field Museum, the mirror maze at MSI or the underwater critters at Shedd for free!
- Visit Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturdays to take part in group singing and instrument-playing. You don’t need to be enrolled in a class to join the fun!
- Kids can learn about animals and pretend to be a variety of forest creatures at Animal Secrets at Kohl Children’s Museum.
- Troll Hunt opens May 1st at Morton Arboretum. Families can watch the giant wood trolls being built for two weeks on the arboretum grounds before they’re finished on June 22.
On May 12, a 7,500-square-foot Model Railroad Garden opens at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
These are just some of the ideas, compiled from https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/chicago/article/50-free-things-to-do-with-kids-in-chicago.
Sesame Place, a “Sesame Street”-themed amusement park in Pennsylvania, is the first theme park to get Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation. The park stated: “It is our goal to provide every family with an enjoyable and memorable visit, and we are proud to offer specialized services to guests with autism and other special needs.”
The theme park provides its staff members with autism sensitivity and awareness training in areas like sensory awareness, motor skills, program development, social skills, communication, environment and emotional awareness. Each ride at Sesame Place is ranked using a special sensory scale (1-10). Additionally, the park offers noise-cancelling headphones, ride accessibility, and quiet rooms and low-sensory areas to accommodate its patrons. This is a very exciting development for families of children with autism, as they now have an opportunity to attend a theme park that caters to their child’s specific needs while offering an interesting and meaningful experience.
View the links below to read more about Sesame Place and visit the website!
Daily routines (e.g. bathing, meals, shopping, car rides, getting dressed, etc.) provide great opportunities for language development in natural settings. Within these routines, children learn how their worlds are organized, begin to associate words/phrases with specific activities, make sense of social interactions, and practice participating in conversations. Through repetition of routines, children gain confidence and gradually take on more active roles. If a parent waits for the child to start a routine, such as squeezing the toothpaste on the toothbrush, the child can begin to understand his/her role as an initiator. A child’s motivation to understand is heightened in a situation in which he/she is an active participant. In addition, as specific vocabulary is repeatedly attached to an experience or activity, the clearer the meaning will become.
Fern Sussman, Program Director at the Hanen Centre, suggests the following guidelines to build opportunities for participation and learning into daily routines:
- Break routines into a series of small consistent steps so that there’s a shared understanding of how the routine works.
- Be flexible as young children learn best when you follow their lead.
- Label what the child is interested in at the very moment it seems to be his/her focus.
- Be creative! Routines can be made out of anything you do regularly!
For parents who are wondering how they can work on their child’s speech and language goals at home, Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP from the ASHA Leader has identified five reasons that books are all you need! The reasons cited are:
1) Books provide a natural context for learning vocabulary: Research has found that children’s books contain approximately twice as many infrequently used or rare words than in conversation and also provide a model of more advanced grammatical structures.
2) Books are efficient: A single book can target multiple communication skills.
3) Books are convenient: Children’s books are portable and typically low-cost.
4) Books are fun: Choosing a story that a child is interested in and motivated to read can facilitate learning language and carryover of those skills.
5) They do not have LED screens: A growing body of evidence suggests negative effects of screen time in young children, particularly speech and language delays, disruptions in sleep patterns and mood swings.
For the full article and a list of books to read for each speech and language skill, click the link below!
Looking for some fun back to school events/activities? Eventbrite has a great list of kid related fun! Check it out!
Does your kindergartener-2nd grader need an extra reading boost over the summer? Improving phonological awareness (syllable counting, rhyming, segmenting, and word manipulation) has been proven to help improve a child’s reading ability. Check out these fun online games to play with your child. Remember, play these games with your child so that you can help teach and reinforce skills not quite mastered.
Does your child love superhero movies? Create your own superhero at http://marvel.com/games/play/31/create_your_own_superhero. While you personalize a superhero you can work on labeling body parts and following directions. Afterwards, glue your creation to a popsicle stick and take it on an adventure. You can incorporate sequencing words and -wh questions.
Social Stories describe a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. For many years, we could only create these stories via paper and pencil, but wonderful apps for both Apple and Android products have been developed that allow parents and therapists to create colorful, simple, and engaging social stories. Although your child’s therapist may have some great ideas for appropriate social stories, if you’re curious, the following link offers nice instructions on how to develop your own social stories as well as questions to ask while reading it with your child.