Early language development – how to support your child

Early language development – how to support your child

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Literacy (reading) skills are important for a child’s early language development, social communication, and academic success. Before a child can pick up a book and decode the words on a page into something meaningful, they must first develop an understanding of what written language is and how it is used throughout their environment. Logos, signs, and labels may be teaching your child how to read without you even realizing it. Preschoolers also learn early concepts of literacy by watching their caregivers interact with written language. These first steps in learning to read are called emergent literacy skills. While you may already be teaching these skills in your day to day life, here are some other ways we can support literacy.

One important skill for early language development literacy is understanding that sounds can be manipulated in order to become words, which is known as phonological awareness. You can support your preschooler’s phonological awareness by talking about and teaching different speech sounds during shared reading activities.

Another skill that helps support reading is print awareness. When children  demonstrate they understand the logos, signs, and labels in their environment have meaning, they are showing  they have print awareness. Print awareness also involves holding a book upright and knowing that the words on the page tell a story. Even before they are able to read the words, encouraging your child to follow the words with their finger from left to right while  reading to them will support print awareness. It is also beneficial to discuss the physical parts of the book, who is the author and who is the illustrator.

Alphabet knowledge, or the understanding that letters represent sounds and letters can be grouped together to become words, is another skill that we can teach while reading together. There are many children’s books about the alphabet, but you can identify individual letters anywhere and talk about the sound that it makes.

Finally, oral language skills are needed for early language development and reading comprehension. Everytime you engage in conversation with your little ones, you are modeling oral language skills. Teaching new vocabulary is essential for oral language and early reading because while reading teaches vocabulary, some word knowledge is needed in the earliest stages of literacy.

Reading is a valuable skill to have throughout a child’s life that encourages children academically, socially, and creatively.  Children who learn to read early on are often more successful than their peers, and reading is also a source of knowledge. Reading also exposes children to new words and language uses. Books teach children about emotions and individual points of view. Appreciation of others thoughts and feelings will help children communicate and build relationships with peers. Of course, reading is also enjoyable and amplifies creativity.

What is Phonological Awareness & Why You should Learn Now!

What is Phonological Awareness & Why You should Learn Now!

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March is National Reading Month, so to celebrate raising awareness of this crucial life skill we’ll discuss the links between speech and language development and early literacy skills. A number of skills that would fall under the speech and language umbrella are enormously important to the development of early literacy. What can parents can do to promote early literacy in their children, from 12 months (or even earlier!) through pre-adolescence? We’ll discuss that too. You may already actively do some or all of these things with your child(ren), but let’s explore some evidence-based lessons as you continue to stimulate your child’s reading development. Learning to read and to ♥ love reading ♥ is a childhood-long project for both children and parents and the work you do as a parent and this post aims to be another support for this noble endeavor.

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Reading Aloud – How to Help Kids Succeed

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Reading Aloud

Reading aloud is an important part of communication and it gives kids the opportunities to build many of these valuable skills. Image source: letsgrowspeech.com

Literacy is an intricate process in which many different aspects of communication and language are involved. Visual awareness of letters and sentences, auditory awareness of phonetics and the spoken language, processing skills for language, and skills for transferring what is read into speaking are all parts of the equation. While reading is generally considered a quiet, if not silent, activity, there are numerous benefits to reading aloud.

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Speech Buddies Parents’ Corner – Travel Games for Little Ones

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So you’re almost set for the drive to Grandma’s house for the holidays, except there is just one problem – the drive to Grandma’s house with bored and fidgety little ones in the backseat. I always find myself remarking to my kids that never had movies in the backseat or iPods to play while traveling across the country in the back of the station wagon and somehow we managed to survive. While my own kids might have access to those luxuries, it still seems that the best boredom busters while traveling are good (dare I say old-fashioned) travel games.

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How Do I Teach My Child to Read?

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How do I teach my child to read?

Children learn to read through consistent exposure to various kinds of literature, as well as by engaging in different types of reading strategies like those outlined above. Image source: infographicsmania.com

Reading is a critical component of communication, and age 7 seems to be the magical turning point by which most children learn to read. Children who struggle up until this point – and those who still aren’t reading beyond 7 years of age, don’t necessarily have disabilities that are preventing them from acquiring literacy skills. However, it is valuable for parents to acknowledge the typical milestones for literacy and recognize the warning signs that something more serious than just a delay is preventing their children from reaching reading milestones. If you find yourself asking: How do I teach my child to read?, these following strategies are might give your child the support and extra attention to literacy that is needed. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Listening Games for Kids

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Can you make a list of 13,000 words you know? This is the average vocabulary for 6 year-olds who are developing communication skills at a typical rate. However, for many children who are struggling with speech and communication skills, that vocabulary list is much shorter. Sue McCandlish, an Education and Speech Pathology professional, developed the model below that outlines how valuable listening is to the overall model of communication. She encourages teachers and parents to engage the “working memory” of children through listening games and activities. So why not get in the holiday mood and try some Thanksgiving listening games for kids? Continue reading

7 Games to Build Reading Skills for Kids Who Can’t Sit Still

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Games to Build Reading Skills

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All of the data points to what many parents and educators already know to be true. Children who have speech and language delays or disorders often struggle to build or maintain reading skills. If you are the parent of a child who faces literacy challenges on top of other communication struggles, and your child just doesn’t seem able to sit still long enough to look at the cover of a book, you might be feeling that reading proficiency is a far away dream. Whether your child is a kinesthetic learner or always on the move because of a learning or behavior challenge, there are options that satisfy that need for movement, but still build reading skills. Try these games that let kids move – and encourage them to read at the same time. Continue reading

Make Some Noise! Homemade Instruments for Kids and Music Therapy

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Homemade Instruments for Kids

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Music therapy is a valuable part of many therapy programs. There is evidence that shows music to have many benefits for those struggling with speech and communication challenges, so bringing more music and rhythm into the classroom, therapy room, and home can be one more option for improving these skills. Whether you are looking to create some homemade music instruments for music therapy to save money, or because you have a child like mine who loves the creating part of the process as much as anything else, try some of these easy homemade instruments for kids that are great for music therapy – and for playtime. Continue reading

Activities to Improve Language Skills in Children with APD

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Activities to Improve Language Skills in Children

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Whether you know it as Auditory Processing Disorder, APD, Central Processing Disorder, or CAPD, if you have a child struggling with this disorder you know the challenges that your entire family faces. Communication, language, academics, and social interactions are all affected by this somewhat mysterious disorder that prevents a person’s brain from processing the information heard by the structures of the ears. Despite all of these challenges, there are activities to improve language skills in children with auditory processing disorder, one step at a time. Continue reading

Build Reading Skills in Kids with Expressive Language Disorder

Build Reading Skills in Kids with Expressive Language Disorder

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It’s on the tip of my tongue! Have you ever felt this way? Kids with expressive language disorders often feel this sensation – that they should know what to say but they just can’t seem to find the right words. Expressive language disorders often mean that kids display the following symptoms:

  • Speaking in short, choppy sentences with limited vocabulary
  • Using a vocabulary that is below grade level
  • Repeating parts or the entirety of questions
  • Using um, ah, well, repeatedly as they search for the “right” word
  • Confusing tenses (past, present, future) in conversations Continue reading