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Hi! As a speech-language pathologist, and a mom of two, I know first-hand how important it is to get a child’s language development off to a good start!  I decided to start writing this blog in response to the many questions I get from families I speak to every day. The purpose is to provide parents with education on typical early language and literacy development, and offer ideas and activities to help support their child’s language at home in fun,easy ways! 

Enjoy!

Toddler Toy Take Down – What You Really Need For Your 1 Year Old’s Language Development

A friend of mine and I were talking the other day about the amount of toys that young children have at home. The discussion started because she had recently attended a birthday party for a little boy who was turning 1 year old and she was blown away to see that this toddler was given approximately 20 presents from his party attendees.  I shared this story with my own mother who found it very amusing. She said “in our day 1 year olds got homemade birthday cake and one present which was meant to be treasured for years to come”.

Since these conversations I have started thinking about how much things have changed between now and then. As a speech-language pathologist in private practice I have entered the homes of many different families and each one always had an abundance of toys available for their young children to play with. My own children also receive a large amount of gifts on their birthdays, which appears to be the norm based on my experience of attending children’s birthday parties over the years.  Most of the toys I have seen in different households are generally those that are deemed “educational” and “beneficial” for a child’s growing skills. However, in the conversations I’ve had with parents it seems most people don’t want to add more toys to their children’s home collection. Now we can all speculate as to why homes today are filled with more toys than when we were younger, but I think the more important question is….. are all these toys REALLY necessary to support a child’s development?

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No prep! No print! No extra time! 4 Easy Things You Can Do To Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Today!

 

Bring Vocab To Life

I recently read a quote that came across a feed in one of my social media sites that read, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” As a speech-language pathologist I truly believe this statement and have seen it to be true both with my own children and in my clinical practice. Language has the phenomenal power to unlock access to knowledge through academic learning and books, to allow creation and imagination to flourish through play and art, as well as to build and nurture the bonds of friendship with another person. Regardless of the topic (art, science, math, music, technology, friendship, etc.) the stronger a person’s language skills are, the better they are at accessing information from the world around them and providing their own great contribution in return.

Helping children to have a wide and rich vocabulary is one of the most important things we can do as parents to ensure they develop strong language skills. In the post I wrote prior to this one entitled Vocabulary in The Early Years: Facts and Myths All Parents Should Know I describe why vocabulary learning is so important in the early years and how a child’s early language abilities are related to long-term academic and social success even into adulthood.

Continue reading “No prep! No print! No extra time! 4 Easy Things You Can Do To Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Today!”

Vocabulary In The Early Years: Facts And Myths All Parents Should Know

Vocabulary Development

As my youngest son prepares to enter school my attention has been brought back to the idea of vocabulary. Truthfully, this topic is never far from my thoughts as a speech and language pathologist, but recently I have been examining my son’s vocabulary more closely. That’s because I know that when he goes to school full-time he will be entering a new phase in his life. He will enter a world where the demand will be higher. More specifically, the demand on his language abilities. He will be required to follow multi-step directions without many cues, learn from a variety of different adults during group and individual contexts, engage in social situations with new peers (some who may be older), as well as prepare to master the academic concepts that are required learning for his year. I know! It seems like a lot for kindergarten! But this is the reality of what is happening in the classroom and having a strong vocabulary is one of the best ways I can prepare him to meet these new challenges.

As I watch my son play with his friends and chat with us at dinner, using diverse and richly descriptive words, I am not worried. He has had the lucky benefit of having a speechy mom who has been preparing him for this day since the moment he was born. However this time in my life brought to my attention the need to share this knowledge with other parents. The critical importance of helping all children develop a wide and rich vocabulary in the early years so each one can take that step into kindergarten with a little more confidence, and set the stage for growing success!

Let’s start off with some basic truths about vocabulary development in the early years that all parents should know and put to rest some common misconceptions.

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25 New Language Boosting Toy Ideas For Your Christmas List: Birth to 5 Yrs

language-toys-for-christmas

Can you believe it? Another year has come and past and with the chill in the air you know that the holidays are just around the corner! It is only November and already I have seen many toy lists posted online with suggestions for what to get kids this Christmas season. There are lots of lists out there that look great but I feel like I keep seeing the same ideas over and over again. So this holiday, I am inspired to do a post about all the new, fantastic toys out there that may not be found on the typical Christmas list, but should be!

I love all these items listed below because I have found they are fun for both boys and girls, they stand the test of time so kids will play with them for years to come, and of course, they encourage the development of strong speech, language and literacy skills.

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“Helping”: My Favourite Real Life Language Boosting Activity

28849066 - young father with his little son washing car

Picture this. You are playing happily with your child, enjoying each other’s company. You look at the clock and realize you need to… (fill in your chore of choice here) so you tell your child “You keep playing. I’ll be back in a minute”. You have barely started into whatever task requires your attention (dinner, dishes, laundry, etc.) and you turn to find your kiddie still glued to your side; either pawing to get picked up or asking you to do something for them that requires your immediate attention. Then for the remainder of the evening you ping-pong back and forth between your child and all the other tasks you need to get done until you fall into bed.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Well, it happens to me EVERY SINGLE DAY! There are countless comic strips out there about the perils of trying to get things done with kids around (which can be maddening!), but what I’ve come to realize is that if you take a step back you begin to see that most of the tasks you are trying to accomplish can actually be very child-friendly if given a few tweaks. This is great because with child-friendly tasks kids can be included as “helpers” and in doing so a parent can achieve 3 important goals:

1) Give kids the attention they are seeking at that moment

2) Accomplish the task that needs to get done

3) Help develop a child’s vocabulary and language comprehension skills

It may seem so basic, and some of you may already be letting your kids help out every now and then.  But if you can include your kiddies as “helpers” during basic activities of daily living, at least once a day for 10-15 minutes, you will be offering a major language boosting opportunity for them. Studies have shown that young children develop language in the back-and-forth interactions they have with adults during daily activities. Of course this includes when we play with our kids, but mostly it involves the language they are exposed to during the common, repetitious daily living activities we do all the time.

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10 Language Boosting Board Games For The Cottage: Ages 2 – 10

10021021 - children - sisters - playing at home with bricks

Summer is in full swing and I love it! It’s the season to take a little time off and enjoy yourself with family and friends. To take a break from the every day and make some special memories with the ones you love the most.

Personally, I remember heading to the cottage and spending lazy afternoons playing board games and cards with my friends and family. For me, these memories bring back wonderful feelings of togetherness and the pleasure of simplicity. In addition, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, playing these games also had the amazing side benefit of helping boost my language skills!

Did you know board games help build:

  • Expressive language skills
  • New vocabulary
  • Social language skills such as turn taking, eye contact and following rules
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Pre-literacy and literacy skills
  • Attention, memory and cognitive skills
  • And much more!!!

Whether you are heading out of town or enjoying a stay-cation, consider picking up some of my favourite games for speech and language development (listed below) to bring with you. Not only will you be creating special memories for your child to cherish, but you will be helping to boost their language skills without them even realizing! Remember, the more fun you have, the more fun your child will have! Enjoy!

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How To Keep Kids “Speech & Language Healthy”

Boy and Muscles

Speech and language skills begin to develop right from birth all the way into adulthood. This is an ever maturing and changing part of life as kids grow up and I think sometimes we may take for granted that these skills will just develop properly on their own.

As parents, we make sure kids exercise, sleep and eat well for good health. We make sure they get regular check-ups and we nurse them when they get sick. Speech and language requires similar attention and care to help kids reach their full potential.

In this post I outline some basic things all parents can do to make sure their kids have a healthy speech and language development and get them ready for success!

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15 Ways To Improve Kids’ Language In The Car

Let’s face it. It seems like there is never enough time in the day. Lately for me, whether my “to do” list is short or long, I always end up going to bed thinking about the things I did not get done. So with all the every day things that busy parents need to accomplish, how do we fit in time to help our kids develop strong language skills? The good news is you actually don’t need to set aside any extra time (which no one has anyways!). All you need to do is find simple ways to tweak routines you are already doing and make them more language rich!

Recently our schedule has been so busy that I have been spending a lot more time in the car with my kids, which was the inspiration for this post. However these activities can be done while walking, pushing little ones in the stroller or pulling them in the wagon. Whatever works for you!

Adding just one of these games into your routine, for 10 mins/day, goes a long way to enriching a child’s language skills. Just remember, the more fun you have with the game, the more fun your child will have!

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Why Babbling Is A Critical Language Milestone

I find infant language development fascinating! It’s remarkable to think about the complexities involved in learning a language, yet these little bundles do this at such a rapid rate and seemingly with such ease! In addition, although it may seem like your infant is a passive agent in the language learning process, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Their little brains are actively integrating information from the moment they are born and by the time they hit around 6-9 months old they are expected to have reached a critical language milestone known as babbling.

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Improve Reading Comprehension In Toddlers and Preschoolers

The importance of reading to young children cannot be overstated. Years and years of research have described the benefits from improving language skills, to developing strong literacy skills, to long-term academic success. But did you know that not all reading is created equal?

In fact, it’s actually the style of reading, more than the frequency, that impacts children’s early language and literacy development. Although this may be a bit surprising to hear, it’s not sufficient to simply read a text aloud to a young child in order to encourage them to learn from it, and since most parents I know are reading to kids to help them with their language and literacy, the question then becomes, “what should I be doing instead?”

I was recently reading a study that stated, “the earlier parents become involved in their children’s literacy practices, the more profound the results and the longer-lasting the effects” (Mullis, Mullis, Cornille et al., 2004). Reflecting on this statement, I felt it was time to do a post that discusses the meaning of the word “involved”.

Books before bedtime are great, but sometimes we all need a few tips on how to really make the most of these moments together. When adults make some simple changes to how they read during story time, which goes beyond just reading the words on the page, this has a major effect on how children engage with books, and ultimately their comprehension of what is being read.

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