Playing with toys can create a rich environment for developing your child’s communication skills. It allows your child to learn a variety of speech and language skills that are meaningful to their lives.
Here are some ideas on how you can play with some of the things you already have around the home:
- Combine pieces from various playsets to encourage flexibility in play. For example, once you have built a castle with your Magna-Tiles, you could include a Spider Man action figure into the play.
- Learn the rules of the game from your child. Have them give you directions using a “First, Then, Last,” structure when explaining how to play a board game or a video game. Let them be the teacher.
- Toys with multiple pieces give opportunities for both of you to take turns in conversation (e.g., requests, or turn-taking language). Examples of these types of toys include Magna-Tiles, Lego, marble tracks, pretend play sets like grocery store or restaurant.
- Copy what your child does with their toys. This shows them that what they did is interesting and continues to encourage interactions. You can then expand on the action to teach them something new.
- Avoid questions when you possible. Instead you can:
- List out choices of things you could play and then wait for a response (e.g.,“We could build a plane, we could build a house, we could build a castle …”).
- Talk about what you are doing in your play.
- Repeat what they have said and add one or two more words to it (e.g., if your child points and says “car”, repeat back to them “more cars”, “red car”).
The winter holidays can be a fun (and busy!) time of year for many kids and their families. There are lots of opportunities to support language skills during holiday activities while your family is away from school over the holidays. See what suggestions below would be fun and easy for your family to try.
Happy holidays, from the Burnaby SLP Team!
- Take a lot of pictures and look back at them together frequently. This can also be looking back at photos from past holiday get-togethers and activities. Talk about what happened, using a good language model. This can help your child/student know what to expect.
- Prepare for phone calls or Zoom meetings with family by talking about things that happened and practicing sharing. You can also prepare questions for your child to ask others.
- Talk about Small, Medium, and Large problems that could happen around the holidays and how you can keep calm and solve them.
- Discuss options of things your child can do to take a break if the holidays get overwhelming. Make a picture menu of choices. You can make one for your whole family and model using it also!
- Read books together about your holiday and traditions.
- Do holiday crafts or baking together. Talk with your child about what you are doing, and include the steps (e.g. “Let’s make a card for your grandma! First I draw a picture, then I write the name, then I put it in an envelope, last we send it!”).
- Sing holiday songs and pause before a key rhyming word to allow them to fill it in to support their phonological awareness skills. You can also make a game of practicing rhyming other holiday words (e.g. light, night, fright, tight, bite).
- To build vocabulary and categorization, try thinking of holiday words with your child, taking turns and supporting as needed. You can ask: “What are some things we see during the holidays?”, “What are some things we smell?” etc.
Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that is very common, affecting approximately 7% of the population. The cause of DLD is generally unknown. A person with DLD can have difficulty talking and understanding spoken language. Spoken words and sentences can be challenging for people with DLD. DLD may also impact behaviour, attention, academic achievement, and peer relationships.
The Burnaby Speech Language Pathologists work with many students with DLD. We also support families and school teams.
For more information, please check out these resources:
Raising Awareness about DLD video
For many students and families, transitioning back to school can be challenging. Part of the challenge is that all children are developing their executive function skills. These are the mental processes that allow us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Like an orchestra conductor or an air traffic controller, to do all this the brain builds the ability to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses (self-regulation). While executive functions are emerging for all children, they can be more challenging for students with learning and behavioral disabilities. Executive functions have a major impact on a child’s academic and social participation and success.
There are many ways to help your child at home with developing their executive functions and independence. Try using visual reminders of the morning, after school and bed time routines. This can include something as simple as a written or drawn-out schedule on their bedroom door, the fridge or the bathroom.
- Keep the schedule somewhere everyone can see it.
- Look at it together often and celebrate when tasks get done – check it off!
- Have your child be part of making the schedule – they draw some of it; include favorite things; name it together e.g., “Kira’s Awesome Mornings”
- Try using a white board; window markers; or something basic like paper and felts. There are many schedules online or try making one on the computer with images your child chooses with you. It can be very simple. The power is that it is visual.
For more tips, check out our new executive functions page!
Thank you to all the caregivers of our students who attended our virtual Articulation Workshop with enthusiasm. Fill, sign, and return an Informed Consent form to have your Articulation Home Program sent home with your child. Please contact your school speech-language pathologist with any further questions. Have fun practicing!
Orange Shirt Day is a day that we honor and remember the Indigenous children who were taken from their families and sent to residential schools across Canada.
Why do we wear an orange shirt on September 30th?
Phyllis Webstad was given an orange shirt by her grandmother before she was sent to a residential school. When she got to the school, they took her clothes and belongings, including her beautiful new orange shirt. She never got it back. When this happened to her, she felt as though “my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing.”
For more information, please watch Phyllis’ story here.
Your child may be learning about this and participating in special activities related to this day at school. Here are some ways you can further the conversation with your child at home. It is a great time to target some language goals too!
- Read books that talk about the first day of school: Jessica by Kevin Henkes, Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt or The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
- Talk about feelings: You and your child can take turns to talk about your feelings about your first day of school. Brainstorm feelings words about how children would feel to be at residential schools (e.g. scared, angry) and then how they should feel (e.g. safe, happy, respected) instead.
- Retell Phyllis’ story: Read or watch Phyllis’s story and retell the story in order using words such as first, next, then, later, in the end.
For more child friendly resources and information, check out these websites:
Also check out these children’s books by Indigenous authors: Some great books are featured right here on CBC Kids!
This will be a back to school year like no other! We will be smiling behind our masks and are excited to see everyone again. Wearing masks helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community but it can sometimes make communication more difficult, especially for people who have trouble speaking or hearing.
• Masks make voices muffled and harder to hear.
• Masks cover facial expression and prevent speech reading. Without visual cues, people with hearing loss or communication difficulties may have even more trouble understanding what they are hearing.
• People with communication difficulties may not be able to make themselves understood through a mask.
Communication strategies when wearing a mask:
• Move to a quiet place, or reduce competing noises in the environment.
• For those who wear hearing aids, ensure they are working well.
• Face your communication partner and make sure nothing is blocking your view.
• Get the attention of your communication partner before you start talking.
• Ask what you can do to make communication easier for both of you.
• Speak a little more slowly and slightly louder than usual, but do not shout or exaggerate your speech.
• Use your eyes, hands and body movements to add more information to your speech.
• Use a voice amplifier.
• Ask if your communication partner understood you. If not, repeat, rephrase or write it down.
• Use speech-to-text apps to transcribe speech in real time.
Please see General Public Masks Info Sheet by Speech-Language and Audiology Canada for further information.
Have a safe and healthy school year!
Many parents are looking for ideas to to keep their kids busy over the summer at this time of year. Here are some fun activities to try that target speech and language goals (you can also print out Summer Speech & Language Bingo)
For more ideas, check out our handouts on how to support your child’s language during everyday activities. See our articulation section for ideas and materials to practice specific speech sounds. Dr. Henry reminds us to “Be kind, be calm and be safe.” As the unique school year ends, also try to have a FUN summer!
When a child has a communication disorder it may feel like talking about difficult topics, such as racism, with them is too challenging. Some children can and usually do sense when there are big feelings (like anger, shame, confusion, anxiety, fear) being felt by those around them or they may see or be exposed to difficult topics being covered in the news or social media. Your child may also be experiencing big feelings that they may or may not understand or know how to express. Talking about these topics with your children at their level is important and doable.
Right now, Black Lives Matter and antiracism movements are topics that are on the minds of many people. Kids may also be learning about this in class or hearing about it from their peers. As parents, it is important for them to hear it from you and discuss it with you. Here are some ways to support those conversations with kids who have difficulties with communication: