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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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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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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Pretend Play & Language Development: A ‘How To’ Guide For 1-6yrs

With Halloween right around the corner my kiddos are already in extreme dress-up mode! There are clothes, hats, toy food and trucks all over my floors….and I love it! It is priceless to watch their imaginations flourish as they create their own unique play scenarios or recreate something they have watched me do at home.

As a speech-language pathologist, I know that pretend play goes with language development like peanut butter goes with jam! I also know that pretend play is a skill that develops, just like gross or fine motor skills, and children need the opportunity to ‘practice’ this skill each day.

Although it is wonderful (and healthy even) to let kids pretend on their own, allowing us parents a chance to get a few things done, it is very important that we engage in these pretend play schemes with them too.

Research tells us that:

  • There is a relationship between play skills and word use in young children
  • Play skills typically lag behind in children with language disorders
  • Play contains a variety of elements that stimulate the kinds of conditions that grow language
  • Children who engage in play with attentive and responsive adults will improve their language skills
  • Children become more able to take advantage of opportunities to learn through play as they become more advanced learners and social partners

Most parents I meet are really eager to engage in pretend play with their kids, however in my practice I have heard many express that they don’t know exactly how or what to do.

So let’s begin with the ‘what’ and learn the developmental milestones your child should be meeting for pretend play from ages 1-6 years.

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Why I’m Not Teaching My Toddler ABCs

As a parent of a 4 and 2 year old and a professional in speech and language development, I spend a lot of time with young children and their families. One of the biggest trends I have noticed amongst today’s parents is placing a high priority on having their young children learn to identify their ABCs. In my experience this typically begins around age 2, but I have even spoken to mothers of infants who are encouraging their babies to learn letters too.  Parents buy flash cards, apps and toys that center around learning letter identification and when I ask families why this is a priority for them the most common answer I receive is that they feel learning ABCs is important for helping their children learn to read.

While it is true that letter knowledge is an important piece in reading success, it is only one small portion of the bigger picture.  Reading typically begins around age 5, and just as you need to crawl before you walk, there are certain early literacy skills children need to master before they can become strong readers.

In this post I want to share some information about the building blocks for early literacy and things you can do to help babies, toddlers and preschoolers get ready to learn their ABCs.

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