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?
Continue reading “Toddler Toy Take Down – What You Really Need For Your 1 Year Old’s Language 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.
Continue reading “Vocabulary In The Early Years: Facts And Myths All Parents Should Know”
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.
Continue reading “25 New Language Boosting Toy Ideas For Your Christmas List: Birth to 5 Yrs”
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!
Continue reading “How To Keep Kids “Speech & Language Healthy””
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!
Continue reading “15 Ways To Improve Kids’ Language In The Car”
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.
Continue reading “Improve Reading Comprehension In Toddlers and Preschoolers”
The mission statement for my private speech and language practice is “to get ALL kids talking to the best of their abilities so they can reach their full potential”. I take this statement to heart with every child I work with and with my own kids at home. That’s because, research shows that young children with strong speech and language skills are more likely to have strong reading skills and to do well in school. Longitudinal research also shows that these kids are more successful as adults.
Modern day parents are involved with their kids’ lives like never before and this is great to see! Now, as a professional in the field of speech and language pathology, it is my responsibility to give parents the proper tools they need to help their children’s language skills become as strong as they can be. Whether or not a child has a speech and language delay, special needs, or they are talking more than any other child, there is always a next step to help them achieve in language development and toward becoming their best selves.
Since engaging kids in conversation is the best way to help develop their language skills, in this post I want to share a basic strategy to get ALL kids talking more no matter what their skill level. Enjoy!
Continue reading “How To Get All Kids Talking in 2016”
As a speech-language pathologist working with families of young children I am constantly asked about book reading. We have all heard that reading to babies is very important but sometimes it can be challenging to read to those squirmy little ones! I can relate to these challenges as a professional, having read to hundreds of different children, and as a parent of two very active kids!
It can be frustrating for even the most well-intentioned parent to keep reading to their child when they seem to be ‘uninterested’ in staying put for the story. Let me begin by saying I understand these frustrations, but I would like to share a few things that highlight why it’s important to keep reading!
• Early language and literacy development begins in the first few years of life
• A child’s early literacy skills develop through regular daily positive interactions with literacy materials and the adults in their lives
• Strong early literacy skills are related to later literacy skills in school
As a professional in speech and language development I have lots of tips and tricks up my sleeve to make book reading enjoyable for ALL kids. Today I will share my top 5 to hopefully help you inspire a love of literacy in your child at home.
Continue reading “How To Read To Busy Babies And Toddlers”