Today, I really wanted to get further along on my walk than 59th street and 5th avenue. Ten blocks more and I would have been able to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. However, I looked downtown from my view in Grand Army Plaza (at 59th street and 5th Avenue) in New York City. It was just too crowded. I turned around and headed home. Before doing so, I took this photo and sent it to family members with whom I was planning to spend the evening. Sadly, we could not be together because of the pandemic.
Well, maybe taking a photo and sending it is not an idea way to say hello, especially on a holiday such as this; but, it was a way to share a moment and perhaps mark the day.
What Can You Do To Connect?
It’s dark out now, so maybe you wont be sharing that walk like I did a few hours ago; but perhaps you have the same board game at each other’s home and can play together virtually -just like you might in a multiplayer video game. Have a bit to eat together- hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies perhaps. If turning on the switch to nighttime lights around your holiday tree at home are a part of a shared tradition do so…. together. If you have a loved one who may not be with you this year, perhaps add a special ornament – a picture of them and put that on the tree or nearby. How would they have wanted you to observe the day and upcoming week? Talk about that.
It may be a different type of observance this year; but one thing is the same… it is a holiday season of sorts and even virtually we can connect and wish each other a healthier and happy new year! I hope you have one…
Thinking back on my own life experiences with passive or classic toys was different because for the most part, until we were older they did not typically include batteries. Toys were passive and it was my job to activate them. I had to make them move and use my voice to create sounds. One particular example that I recall is my significant collection of dolls, as a little girl and the tea parties I would share with them, in pretend play. I have no recollection of what we said; but as a child it felt like I was a part of that party.
One Day the Batteries Were There:
Then the Batteries were not:
True story – one day I asked a parent to take all of the batteries out of the toys and see what her triplets would do. They all were delayed in language development. The toys had to move. A train could not just move on a a train track when a button was pushed; but the boys used their bodies to push the train on the track. They had to pick up the train, figure out how to put it on a train track so that it balanced, They had to focus ondirecting the train to go somewhere and figure out how to get it there. When you asked what the train sound said. They had to use their voice to tell me and did!. They created a sequence of events. They problem solved and reasoned out how their game should proceed.
You probably are quite familiar with battery operated toys so let’s think about suggestions of passive or classic toys for the holiday, or not.
Toys can teach the gross motor skills like walking running or throwing like you might learn in sports. The game Twister is a nice one as the weather gets colder and the mesh tunnels that you can crawl through. If you have a “crawler” aged toddler – even add to the game by blowing bubbles and have them “pop” these. If you have a toddler age child play One Little Finger song melody and instead of “tap-at-tap” substitute “pop-pop-pop point your finger up, point you’re finger down and then ask for “more bubbles””. Some of the mesh toys have basketball hoops. Others have at one end a house which for a sensory – highly stimulated child who needs to calm will be helpful.
Toys can teach higher level language skills: reasoning can be learned with games such as Risk, Guess Who and Charades. These help with problem solving focusing attention recall of attributes that have been described.
Blocks, dollhouses, farm houses, cooking centers for pretend play, dolls or action figures with spoons, cups, forks, knives, plates, wash clothes etc. for pretend play. Actions games like twister, balls, bats, basketball hoops, the mesh tunnels that you can crawl through (and for those with small apartments the ability to squash these up and push them under your furniture or behind a sofa for storage. Turn taking games like “Hi Ho Cheerio”. If you have time Monopoly is good as well as Risk for higher level reasoning and for phonic awareness: either Scrabble or Scrabble Junior.
Literacy Skills – Don’t forget the old fashioned book!
Reading can literally expand your brain function and help it develop. There is an actually there is a “. When we sit with a tangible book with non electronic pages we typically can do so at a slower rate. At least, it is easier to do so then with an e-book where you skim quite quickly. Here is a “ that talks about it and may help you consider buying one for someone as a holiday gift this year
This past week, I made my first video “Language in Boxes” and I encourage you to view it. It is posted at www.betterspeech.com and relates to how we can incorporate language learning into routine activities . They help your children learn language and don’t involve anything beyond just “living”. A part of the video relates to cooking and how it can be used in this way. In mine when we were kids, as I am sure others in homes, meals were an intrinsic part of daily life. As my older brother says – cooking is chemistry. We did a lot of that and really started from scratch,
The video below, talks about making rainbow popsicles (below) starts with a catchy tune and is a great illustration of how you can step by step make popsicles. Perhaps without intentional purpose, the song and visual images illustrates how much fun this can be and some children relate to it because they may have learned to enjoy cooking and have built memories that you can talk about, or even write about when you are done.
THE BRAIN AND COOKING
See that lit up area of the brain below? Cooking helps to develop that lit up area called the frontal lobe. That is the area that involves reasoning (i.e. “what do i need to make i.e. apple pie?” problem solving (“how much should I make?”) attention and drawing inferences.
A SEQUENCE IN PREPARING TO WORK:
Growing up there was a garden in my backyard, every summer. It would start with trips to the farm where dad bought milk for us at home and also manure. Awful combination! However, we learned that manure was good for growing the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, carrots and string beans. Sometimes lettuce was mixed in. My job was to weed the garden as dad fertilized the plants in the hot summer months. At summer’s end, all of the vegetable garden would wind up in a pile to be transformed into fertilizer for the following year when we would start again.
Dad taught me the language of gardening and perhaps you can as well.
Nouns: Plants, manure, soil, the names of the vegetables, slugs, beer, fertilizer and weeds
Verbs: weeding, fertilizing, growing, pulling (out carrots when you could see the orange part of the carrot popping up), digging, burying
Animals that Can Be Harmful to Plants: Then we learned all about how slugs were not good for plants..or flowers in the plot of earth that was doled out to me in the backyard. I learned how to bury cat food containers (we had two) and pour beer in them. Voila – the next morning after these were buried were a handful of slugs in each container.
Descriptive terms: colors of vegetables, ripe vegetables vs those that needed to do so.
Sequencing the Steps for Preparing to Cook: My job was to go outside and pick the ripened vegetables and I learned how to distinguish those that were or were not. Mom would give me a bag and tell me “go get some string beans and carrots for dinner!”.
Pride: Even if it was next to the garbage pail in the backyard, my marigolds were my own contribution every summer!
Cooking Helps Those With Sensory Aversions
I will talk more to you about SOS Therapy in another post; but to share with you briefly, there is a sequential hierarchy in which we learn to eat and breaking the steps up helps children learn to participate in meals. It is a sensory approach, especially helpful for those on the autism spectrum and or those with sensory challenges.
I mention it, because the feeling of the textures of ingredients for “Grandma Rose’s Oatmeal Cookies” are a very salient memory and I can still smell them.
Tasting: Go to a garden stand or farm this fall. It’s a great time of year to learn more about the appearance of fresh vegetables and fruits. There is nothing like them! You can’t forget licking the spoon after stirring the batter when a cake is made!
Tactile: Experience washing, slicing, putting food into a pan, oven or baking
Seeing: Cook with foods and enjoy the visual component of seeing them.
Smelling: After everything is in the oven or on the stove and it is cooking!
If you are concerned about the Delta variant and may be keeping a child home from school – or preschool know that there are options for your child to learn communication skills at home by infusing, or embedding teaching moments into your day – your daily routines.
To embed involves “learning by doing”. For example, here are some examples of ways that you can help your son or daughter to develop speech and language at home by DOING to give you food for thought so you can consider how aspects of your routines, when we are or are not socially distanced can become teachable ones. At the bottom of this post are some additional insights for how to teach language in the below stated areas of daily life.
Teach Vocabulary: food names and actions
Follow Directions by having them “give me the red pepper.” , have the child find and place the red pepper where it goes.
Answer questions by saying “what is this?” as you pick up i.e. a box of their favorite cereal. You could ask them to tell you “where does it go”
Sequencing the steps: You can teach this by modeling what you are doing in the process of unpacking groceries as you do it. For examplel: starting with saying “Thank you” to whomever has delivered your package. Discuss that you need to “pick up” the bag and “bring it to the kitchen” “unpack “(define that), “put the cereal …” etc.
Doing the Laundry:
Teach Vocabulary: clothing and action words
Sorting – all the dark colored clothes in one pile and the light ones in another Have your child help by putting “all the shirts go here. all the pants go in this pile.
Follow Directions: Ask your toddler or school ages child to “put a pod of soap into the machine” with your supervision.
Sequence: You can teach this by modeling or having your child hear/see the steps being performed: “open the door”-washing machine, “put clothes in” “put in the soap” “close the door”
The idea of embedding activities into daily routines so that parents can help to facilitate development in language with their children in the 0-3 age range and actually beyond is widely used. It appears that in an age of a pandemic, social distancing and altered lifestyles that the need for inclusion of embedding activities into daily living has become even more important. You are your child’s first teacher and that job does not end – pandemic or not, 24/7. Hopefully, these suggestions can help.
Teaching Executive Function through daily routines
On youtube or in the library re books that you can read to your child about this and other daily activities. It’s worth taking a look and previewing reading about each activity even before you do it – or at a quiet time of the day.
We learn in school that there is a typical progression of how language develops, a sequential step by step process that begins the day that infants are born regardless of what you speak. It’s fascinating to watch the “blob” that is born and the “person” that develops, especially in very early years. A reduction in social opportunities has changed family dynamics and still does in areas where a “lockdown” is still in effect. How does this or not impact on language acquisition? Are there changes in the sequence?
Consider these factors.
Children learn through interaction with objects and others in the environment. Mirror neurons have an impact on development of social skills and perhaps they have not developed to the extent that we would hope due to reduced opportunities for socialization, especially with those diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
Children have had less physical activities.
Some may have been home with parents who were working and may or may not have had more opportunity for “quality time”.
Some preschoolers and kindergartners may have been “in school”; but never in a building. Will their learning style be different?
Digging into the research online, i found a scientific study that provides information on what parents did with their children during “lockdown” and documents that actions of parents and caregivers indeed has had an impact. For those still on “lockdown” perhaps it is helpful to think about the results of the research.
Please provide comments about your experiences. How did you interact with each other? With less social opportunity, how have your family members been affected in terms of language? Did communication change in your home and if so, how??
This blog post is short and sweet. I need your thoughts:
How has the pandemic impacted your child’s development of language? Please share in the comments section below
We learn in school that there is a typical progression of how language develops, a sequential step by step process that begins the day that infants are born, It’s fascinating to watch the “blob” that is born and the “person” that develops, especially in very early years. That can be a whole other post. However, for now – a reduction in social opportunities has changed family dynamics and still does in areas where a “lockdown” is still in effect.
I wonder – are there changes in the sequence of developmental steps that are “typical”. Children have had less physical activities. Some may have been home with parents who were working and may or may not have had more opportunity for “quality time”. Some preschoolers and kindergartners may have been “in school”; but never in a building. Will their learning style be different?
Indeed, digging into the research online, i found a scientific study that provides information on what parents did with their children during “lockdown” did indeed have an impact. For others now who still are or may be on “lockdown” perhaps think about the results of the research.
Please provide comments about your experiences. How did you interact with eachother? With less social opportunity, how did your family spend time?. The more that speech language pathologist know about your concerns and about the history of your child’s communication needs, the more we are able to help. Thanks!
On Facebook recently, I read the following question from a parent and had some ideas about what might be helpful:
“Anyone had success in detaching their kids from the electronic world? I have a huge concern about what this is doing to my 2 boys with multiple letters in their diagnosis…I am afraid our summer is a battle and competition with it.😑”
There is cause for concern, battles aside. According to How Technology Hinders People with ADHD: “Technology use requires balance and self-monitoring. It can be beneficial to utilize the available software to help increase productivity, but also to help decrease distraction and hyper-focus”.
Tuesday = iPad etc. I might want to rotate every day of the week. Monday may be kindle day, Tuesday could be i-pad day etc.
Plan Media Viewing: Here is a list of acceptable programs or … decide together what will be watched (you as a parent are responsible for how technology is used and viewed at home)
Talk about what you have watched with mom/dad
**The research shows that children of different ages understand ond process what they view on computers or other electronic devices best if you as an adult watch it with them and then discuss what is being viewed.
The Ready to Learn Television Program
The Ready to Learn Program: 2010-2015 Policy Brief, published in March 2016, summarized ED’s Ready to Learn Television program research on the effectiveness of three educational television production organizations.53 The brief reported on 15 effectiveness/summative research studies with children aged 3-8 using media in informal learning settings (such as after school or child care programs); 7 of the studies focused on learning at home. From the 7 studies that focused on learning at home, positive associations were found between at-home engagement and children’s math learning with children whose parents received interventions such as content guides and suggestions for supplemental activities. The studies also found that parents’ awareness of children’s math learning increased their likeliness to engage in activities and strategies to help their children learn math.
On a personal Note:
On this Father’s Day, I remember the house rule in my family. Each of the three of us siblings was allowed to watch television for one hour per day. The rule was so ingrained into my daily life that I can even recall the names of the shows I watched and the time of day. It was always for an hour in the morning before school. It was a relaxing way to start the day. Of course, the time of day changed with advancing childhood years.
There were exceptions to that rule: My parents allowed us additional time if we had to watch something on television for school OR if there was a special program – for example watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a family was a big deal for us. It was, after all, a simpler time. Another such special additional viewing that stands out is the night that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. The LM landed on the Moon at 20:17:39 GMT (16:17:39 EDT) on 20 July 1969. That was special!… so special that we went to the neighbor’s house to watch together. We went there because they had a color television set and I imagine my parents wanted to share the occasion with other adults. For some reason, one of those memories as a little girl was that of dad carrying me home really comfortable in his arms, because I fell asleep right after the landing.
The beauty of this rule is a child was that I was forced to develop other interests and had to learn what else I could do in my free time. Mom was a librarian so we spent a lot of time picking out books and reading. I’d read two or three books at a time. I set up lemonade stands, rode my bike, learned how to draw, and write poetry. During the summer, we went to the pool. We traveled as a family, as we got older and actually may do so even now, periodically as adults. It builds bonds by sharing face time. The challenge comes when you sit down to eat and the phone has to go in a basket, away from everyone and the game is who can stay away from their phone for the longest! Technology can really be addictive!
Finally – for additional thought on the topic of how we use the brain and how it develops take note of this article and perhaps build reading time into your family’s regular routine:
Sometimes same events re-occur. Years ago, families had rules about the use of television with children and now things have gotten more complex with the emergence of social media, smartphones, and computers for example.
The Family Media Plan-published by the American Academy of Pediatrics talks about the fact that at the age of fifteen months, the use of media is okay so long as a parent watches with the toddler. The controversy around this area is a fascinating one that should be considered by parents and caregivers. In visiting homes it becomes apparent that there are varying opinions and reasons for or against its use being voiced. Research about the use of technology is telling us more and more. The fact that it is showing that there is an influence on brain development is not surprising. How does this affect your children and parenting style around this issue?
Screen Use Tied to Children’s Brain Development
In a study, preschoolers who used screens less had better language skills.