Category Archives: Helpful Tips for Parents at Home

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROMOTE PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS SKILLS IN MY CHILD?

Children generally begin to show early phonological awareness when they demonstrate an appreciation of rhyme. For children as young as 4 years old, focusing on rhyme is a good starting place.

Rhyming activities you can do at home:
 
Sing fun rhyming songs together, such as

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream
     Merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream

Emphasize the rhyming words by saying them slightly louder and longer. Tell your child that these words rhyme and that they sound the same at the end! After your child is familiar with this song, pause and wait for them to fill in the rhyming word (e.g. Life is but a _________).

Read rhyming books together (e.g. Dr. Suess books) and work together to pick out rhyming words. Make a list of all the rhyming words you can find using markers, crayons or chalk. Ask your child to think of another word that rhymes with those on your list (e.g. “fun, run, sun…can you think of another rhyming word?)

While singing songs or reading books together with rhyming words, pause and ask your child questions such as, “Do “hat” and “cat” rhyme?”, or “Do “dog” and “cat” rhyme?” to encourage rhyme identification. Your child can give a thumbs-up for yes and a thumbs- down for no. Once your child is able to do this with two words, say three words aloud and ask them to tell you which word doesn’t belong.

Make up “silly sentences” while riding in the car or shopping together using rhyming words. Begin a sentence and have your child try to fill in the end using a word that rhymes. For example, you could say, “the bunny is…” and your child can respond, “funny!”

Be creative and have fun! 

Written by:  Emily Dykstra, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd

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Making Homework Fun – Using Computer Games to Make Therapy "Homework" Seem …. Not Like Homework

Acquiring speech and language skills takes extensive practice in both the therapy session and at home, too. When juggling schoolwork, meal time, family time, household chores, and down-time, it can often be a challenge to find activities to tempt children into practicing their speech and language homework. Luckily, if you have access to a computer, you have access to therapy materials!
In most therapy sessions, your Speech-Language Pathologist will likely work on a list of goals and then send several of these targets home for you to target with your child. Any turn-based computer game can be turned into therapy practice for drill activities. Hidden object/hide and seek games, puzzle games, and strategy games are usually the best kinds of games for practicing speech and language targets (e.g., practice your target, take your turn on the game). Action and timed games are usually not appropriate for drill therapy practice, unless you modify the rules (e.g., practice 10 speech/language targets and then you get 2 minutes of play on the computer). 
There are many games which are commercially available for a computer or handheld gaming device. In terms of free games, lists of popular online game sites can be found by running a simple search on the internet. These sites often have hundreds of free games to play, many of which are appropriate for speech and language practice. If you aren’t sure whether or not a game is appropriate, send the link to your Speech-Language Pathologist, who will be more than happy to check it out for you. As a warning, many of these sites make their money by showing you ads all over the screen – be sure to only click on the games and not the ads; otherwise you may find yourself buying all sorts of products you never wanted!
Choose a game which suits your child’s interests, because if therapy isn’t interesting, it just won’t get done. With some careful planning and consultation with your Speech-Language Pathologist, your kids will be begging you to let them do their homework!

Written By: Jessica Goldberg, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd. 

Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!!

Dropped plates, thrown foods, defiant screams…. Mealtimes with toddlers can be difficult at the best of times!  But having to deal with a toddler who is also a picky eater can make mealtimes even more stressful.  Most people don’t know that speech-language pathologists (SLP) are the professionals to turn to when picky eating is a problem. Below are a few tips from our SLPs to help you turn your picky eater into an eating angel:

  • Re-offer foods that have been previously refused (research shows that foods need to be offered up to 20 times!)
  • Make it fun!  Squish, smell, kiss and lick new foods.
  • Use fun bowls, plates, cutlery, etc.
  • Allow your child to spit out new foods
  • Try some food play activities (away from mealtimes) 

Bon Appetit!

Two Languages, One Home …

“Is it too confusing to learn two language simultaneously?”

“Will learning two languages cause our child’s speech or language skills to be delayed?”

“How should we teach our child two languages?”

These questions are typical concerns of parents considering to use more than one language at home. The first and most important suggestion for parents is to ensure you are speaking a language that you are comfortable and proficient in when communicating with your child. For example, if you are fluent in Spanish, then speak Spanish to your child. There is no evidence or research to suggest that learning two languages causes language delays. In fact, many children who are exposed to more than one language outperform their monolingual peers on both verbal and non-verbal tests of intelligence.

One method for teaching multiple languages at home is the “One Parent One Language” approach, where each parent speaks a specific language to his/her child all the time. For example, mom speaks English while dad speaks Spanish.

Another approach involves using a different language during different routines. For example, English during dinnertime and Spanish during bath time.

Just remember that the basic concept is to keep the languages separate in order to minimize confusion. Both approaches are equally as effective; choosing simply depends on which one best suits your family.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.speechtherapycentres.com/

Early Literacy During the Pre-School Years

As our children get ready to go back to school or daycare, it is a great time to freshen up on our “teaching” skills as parents.  Below are a few helpful tips on how you can make early literacy a priority (and more interesting!) for your little ones.

2-3 Year Olds:

  •  Read to your child everyday, even if it is only for a few minutes
  •  Encourage your child to bring you his/her favourite books so you can read them together
  •  Talk with your child throughout the day about what is happening
  •  Point to pictures and name them out loud
  •  Be patient when your child wants to read the same book many times
  •  Encourage your child to play with books (flip them from front to back, turn   pages)

4-5 Year Olds:

  •  Help your child hear words that rhyme (like cat and hat)
  •  Let your child choose the book s/he wants
  •  Help your child hear and say the first sound of a word (ball, bear)
  •  Point out signs and labels that have letters
  •  Ask “what?”, “where?”, and “how?” questions when reading
  •  Introduce new words
  •  Make connections from stories to things that happen in real life

Happy Reading!

For more information about The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada, please visit:  http://www.speechtherapycentres.com/