3 Ways to Develop the Critical Skills Your Child Must Have Before They’ll Talk

If you have a child who’s not yet talking, those first words are probably something you’re excited about hearing. Keep reading to find out one thing your child needs to be able to do before you’ll hear those precious first words and ways you can help them to learn how to do them.

The critical skill they need is joint attention. Joint attention is when you and your child share focus on something together. It might be a toy, a person or something interesting in your surroundings. It’s important that your child is able to gain and direct your attention to something. They’ll often do this by pointing and looking at the thing of interest. It’s also important for them to be able to respond to you and shift their attention when you want to share something with them. Joint attention is super important as it’s one of the ways we ‘tune in’ to other people and learn from them and our surroundings. It’s a critical skill your child needs to learn to talk. Without it your child’s talking will be delayed. 

So, how do you help your child develop joint attention? Here are 3 things to try:

1. Get down to your child’s level

When you’re standing up, you seem a really long way away from your child and this makes it harder for them to focus on you and what you're looking at. Getting down to their level helps them to pay attention to your face and the thing you’re showing them. It also makes it easier for them to get your attention and direct it to what they’re interested in.

2. Be animated 

When you’re trying to get your child’s attention or you’re sharing focus together, use lots of facial expressions and an excited tone of voice.This will not only help to capture your child’s attention but it’ll help them stay focused for longer too.

3. Follow their interests

Pay attention to what your child is interested in and join them by looking at it too and making comments about it. There’s no need to try to get them to focus on a new toy if they’re interested and enjoying focusing on another. When you do this your child will be far more likely to return the favour and share in your interests.

If you’re worried about your child’s talking, a paediatric Speech Pathologist is the health professional who can help. Contact your local Speech Pathologist or send us an email at info@talplaygrow.com.au

 

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Toy Central: Jenga

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us that play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social, and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in the clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

 

Name of game

Jenga

What’s it about?

Jenga is a classic construction and strategy game for all ages. Using concentration and fine motor skills, children stack the wooden blocks in a sturdy tower, then take turns pulling out blocks one by one until the whole stack crashes down. The last person to pull out a block without the tower crashing is the winner! This game is wonderful for children to love to build and also love watching the tower fall.

Our top 3 tips
1. Target Speech Sounds

This game can be used to target a whole range of speech sounds. Try writing out and sticking words containing a sound onto the blocks and encourage your child to say the word with the correct sound. This will enable lots of repetitions of sounds in a fun and engaging game.

2. Explore language concepts as you play

There are lots of language concepts you and your child can target throughout this game. Point out different prepositions and get them to repeat them back to you. If you're not sure where to start use top, bottom, middle, left, right, next to, up, and down are just a few! You can also add colours, shapes, objects or instructions to the blocks or you can work on following instructions and further developing their range of vocabulary.

3. Use questions to create fun and engaging conversation

Lastly, Jenga can be used as a fun way to have conversations with children and work on turn-taking. Each time a person has a turn they can ask or answer a question about themselves and keep the conversation going until the tower crashes down! Remember children love it when we keep playing fun, so get creative with some silly questions or jokes to keep them engaged!

 

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Man reading book

Book Central: There Was On Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what book to read and how to read it.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they can go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development and future success.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how of book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading it is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly by Pam Adams and Simms Taback

What’s it about?

This is an hilarious and interactive book that follows the story of an old lady who swallows a fly followed by five other animals. The tale is extremely catchy and kids love reading aloud the repeated rhyming phrases. The colourful and funny illustrations on each page will keep your child glued to this book!

Our top 3 tips
1. Talk about what is happening

As you read you can chat about what's happening on each page. It's a great chance to teach some describing words e.g. "She swallowed a fly?! That's disgusting! She swallowed a spider?! How revolting". This will help increase their vocabulary. You can also ask a few questions that make your child think such as "Would you ever swallow a bird?", "Why not?", "What might happen?". This will help them develop important reasoning and predicting skills.

2. Play a guessing game

Children love guessing games so have some fun with this! Have your child guess what the old lady might eat next before you turn the page. You can get them to have a random guess or, better yet, give them some clues. So, for the cow, you might say "It's something that lives on the farm and we get milk from it" and see if they can guess. This will help build their listening comprehension skills.

3. Go over the sequence of the story

After reading through the book, see if you child will tell the story back. They might tell it back to you, a toy or a pet. You can teach them sequencing concepts at the same time by talking about first, then and last. Get your child to use the book to help them remember the sequence of the animal eaten. This will help your child learn some of the essential parts for retelling and creating their own stories.

 

These a just a few of our top tips to help your child engage in story time and for more tips follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

Worried about your child's talking? Contact us here


3 Mistakes to Avoid if Your Child is Stuttering

Is your child repeating sounds, words or phrases?  Are they stretching out words or getting stuck before talking? 

Around 12% of children begin to stutter by 4 years of age.  Children who begin to stutter in their preschool years need therapy immediately to prevent its negative impacts and reduce the likelihood of them stuttering for life

If left without treatment your child’s stuttering can get worse or be with them for life.  The impact of stuttering on a child’s life is varied however it’s absolutely certain that it will interfere with their ability to communicate.  This can lead to your child feeling embarrassed to speak in front of others, they can become frustrated with it and they may develop social anxiety which significantly affects their interact and build relationships with people.  This social anxiety can begin to emerge by just seven years of age.

With the right treatment stuttering can be eliminated.  Your child can become an excellent communicator who can confidently answer questions in class, stand up and give a speech and build strong relationships with those around them. There are also mistakes you can make that may lead to your child’s stuttering getting worse. It’s so important to avoid making these mistakes if your child is stuttering.

So, if you want to get your child’s speech stutter-free here are 3 mistakes to avoid:

       1. Finishing their sentences

Maybe it’s hard to watch your child struggle to talk or maybe you’re in a hurry. Either way, it can be very tempting when your child is struggling to get their words out to try to help them by finishing their sentence for them. Whilst your intentions are good, doing this can lead to frustration and a drop in their confidence.

       2. Telling them to slow down and take a breath

This is a really common mistake we see parents make. Again, we know you mean well by it however it doesn’t help your child talk smoothly at all. Rather than telling them this just give them the time they need to say their sentence and wait patiently until they’ve finished.

         3. Not seeking professional help immediately

There used to be a recommendation that you could wait 6-12 months before seeking help from a Speech Pathologist for your child’s stutter. This has changed. It is now recommended that you get help as soon as your child begins to stutter. Waiting can put your child at risk of becoming frustrated, losing confidence or having a stutter for life.

So, if your child is stuttering it’s time to avoid these mistakes and get professional help.  Our Speech Pathologists see children who stutter every day.  We can implement treatment to eliminate stuttering and build your child’s confidence in their communication.  Simply send us an email or call us on (02) 9653 9955.

 

 

 

 

 


Toy Central: Hedbanz

I'm sure you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in the clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

This month the spotlight is on ‘Headbanz for kids’! So, head over to our blog and find out how you can use this game to make a difference in your child’s development. Link in bio

Name of game

Headbanz for Kids!

What’s it about?

Headbanz is a fun, interactive game that is known as the quick question game of what am I? The aim of the game is to ask questions until you figure out if the cartoon on your head is an animal, food or household item. Everybody else knows your cartoon but you! The winner is the first person to guess their cartoon before the timer run out!

Our top 3 tips
1. Develop younger children's basic vocabulary and simple category skills

With younger children, you can use the nicely illustrated playing cards that contain pictures of familiar foods, animals, and household items which can be used to teach simple vocabulary or turned into a category sorting task.

2. Encourage older children's describing words and use of adjectives

When playing with older children, ensure all questions asked contain an adjective whether that be focusing on the colour, size, feature or category. This helps promote sentence complexity as well as vocabulary development.

3. Target auditory recall skills through recalling

Get your child to focus on the previous questions they have asked to ensure they are not repeating the same questions. This helps target auditory recall as your child needs to recall the answers to previous questions and comprehend the answers to begin creating a mental picture in their minds.

 

Don't forget to have fun together - children learn through play!

 

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3 Ways to Develop the Critical Skills Your Child Must Have Before They’ll Talk

If you have a child who’s not yet talking, those first words are probably something you’re excited about hearing. Keep reading to find out one thing your child needs to be able to do before you’ll hear those precious first words and ways you can help them to learn how to do them.

 

The critical skill they need is joint attention. Joint attention is when you and your child share focus on something together. It might be a toy, a person, or something interesting in your surroundings. It’s important that your child is able to gain and direct your attention to something. They’ll often do this by pointing and looking at the thing of interest. It’s also important for them to be able to respond to you and shift their attention when you want to share something with them. Joint attention is super important as it’s one of the ways we ‘tune in’ to other people and learn from them and our surroundings. It’s a critical skill your child needs to learn to talk. Without it, your child’s talking will be delayed. 

 

So, how do you help your child develop joint attention? Here are 3 things to try:

1. Get down to your child’s level

When you’re standing up, you seem a really long way away from your child and this makes it harder for them to focus on you and what you're looking at. Getting down to their level helps them to pay attention to your face and the thing you’re showing them. It also makes it easier for them to get your attention and direct it to what they’re interested in.

2. Be animated 

When you’re trying to get your child’s attention or you’re sharing focus together, use lots of facial expressions and an excited tone of voice. This will not only help to capture your child’s attention but it’ll help them stay focused for longer too.

3. Follow their interests

Pay attention to what your child is interested in and join them by looking at it too and making comments about it. There’s no need to try to get them to focus on a new toy if they’re interested and enjoying focusing on another. When you do this your child will be far more likely to return the favour and share in your interests.

If you’re worried about your child’s talking, a paediatric Speech Pathologist is the health professional who can help. Contact your local Speech Pathologist or send us an email. 

 

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Toy Central: Pop Up Pirate!

Play is essential for your child's development and we've heard it said before “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them. The what and how is what makes the difference to your child’s development so learning how to play well together and often is key!

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in the clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

This month the spotlight is on one of our absolute favourites: ‘Pop Up Pirate!' by Tomy.

What’s it about?

Pop Up Pirate is a classic, fun game that welcomes barrels of laughter. The aim of the game is to press the pirate into the barrel and stick different swords in while you wait patiently for the pirate to pop up! This game will keep you and your child on the edge of your seat as nobody knows which sword will be the one to make the pirate pop!

Our top 3 tips

1. Practice target words with repetition

While you are taking turns, using the swords have your child practice speech sounds. Every time they practice a sound/target word they are given a sword to place into the barrel. This helps increase the number of repetitions and makes speech practice fun and enjoyable.

2. Work on conjunctions

Conjunctions such as ‘and’ ‘or’ and ‘because’ can be targeted when playing this game. When asking for a sword, ask your child whether they want the ‘blue OR the red’ sword or ‘I want the yellow AND green sword.’ This helps target your child’s understanding of these concepts as well as provides them with a functional way to practice using conjunctions when communicating.

3. Practice sequencing

Sequence what order you would like your child to pick up the coloured swords e.g. ‘before you pick up the red sword, give me the green sword.’ This helps to target following instructions and listening skills.

 

Remember learning through play is a fun way to expand your child's development so keep it light and fun as you play together!

 

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Book Central: Pig the Pug

Have you ever wondered if there is a right or wrong way to read to your child? No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are read to regularly have a greater understanding of language, their vocabularies are larger and their thinking skills are more advanced.  And this means they go on to be confident and skilled readers.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical for their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how of book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is improving your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

What’s it about?

This is a story about Pig, a pug who finds it difficult to share with his friend Trevor.  He is quite rude and refuses to share even with Trevor’s repeated polite requests.  He gathers his toys up in a pile until something unexpected happens.  The question is has Pig learned his lesson?

An ability to truly understand this storyline should begin around 4 years of age when children learn that their wants and thoughts are different from others.  We call this ‘theory of mind’.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it with younger children!  It just means you shouldn’t expect them to fully understand the plot as their thinking skills probably isn’t developed enough yet.

Our top 3 tips

If you want your child to develop their listening, talking and thinking skills whilst having loads of fun then try these when you’re reading with them:

1. Add expression when you’re reading.

Adding character voices is a great way of engaging your child in the story.  When Pig flips his wig you do just that when you’re reading what Pig says!  You can also add interest by using a louder voice when words are in capital letters or bold font.

2. Talk about feelings and putting yourself in another person’s shoes.

Questions like “how would you feel if your friend didn’t share with you?” or “how would I feel if you spoke rudely to me?” will increase your child’s emotional knowledge and develop their theory of mind.

3. Point out new words and explain what they mean

If you come across a word you don’t think your child knows, for example in this book they use ‘swine’, take a moment to point it out and explain it by linking it back to words they do know.  You may say “Swine. Well, that’s an interesting word.  Swine is another word for pig.  I could say there is a swine on the farm! Can you use the word swine?”

 

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Successfully Starting the School Year

It's that time of year and your child is transitioning back to school. It’s a time filled with mixed emotions not only for you but for them as well.  In this article, we’ll share our top tips for making the transition to school as smooth as possible.

“Starting school can be an overwhelming time for both children and parents.  It’s a massive life change that needs preparation and ongoing attention and effort to make sure it goes smoothly for everyone”

Without preparation and putting the right strategies in place your child can easily become overwhelmed by the experience of starting school.  This overwhelm is often expressed through behaviour.  Your child may become upset and cry frequently, they may get angry and act out or they withdraw into themselves.  Needless to say, you want to avoid your child becoming overwhelmed.

When you prepare well and put strategies in place that work you can do just that.  Your child will feel more confident, have fewer emotional outbursts (still expect some though!) and the transition will be much smoother for both them and you.

So, read on to find out how you can help not only your child but yourself get through the transition with minimal overwhelm and upset.

#1 Stick to a routine

Routines are super important.  When children have consistency in their life and know what to expect they will be less anxious.  And when they’re less anxious they’re more calm and confident.  Set up a morning, afternoon and evening routine for every day of the week and stick to it. A visual schedule is a great way for school starters to remember their routine.  Get your child involved by having them check off the steps in their schedule as they go through each of them.  You can find out more about visual schedules here https://teachingmama.org/visual-schedule-for-toddlers/.  Routines can also help you get out the door on time without the stress and hustle!  And lastly, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of a consistent bedtime that allows your child to get enough sleep.

#2 Give them downtime

There are so many before and after school activities on offer these days.  It can seem like booking your child into a bunch of these would be good.  You may have a case of FOMO for your child however you need to avoid overscheduling them.  School is incredibly tiring when they’re just starting out on their schooling journey and all those extra activities add to the drain.  If they’re tired they’ll have trouble maintaining their attention and learning new things at school.  What’s more important is to book some downtime into their calendar every day.  They will need time to relax and play quietly and recharge their battery ready for the next day.

#3 Talk to them about school

Start conversations about school right from the start.  Avoid general questions like “how was your day?” or “how are you?” and replace these with specific questions about their day such as “who did you play with at recess?” or “what was the favourite thing in your lunchbox today?”.  Also, talk about how they’re feeling with questions like “how did you feel when…?”.  They may not be able to describe this to you just yet so teach them how by telling them about your feelings in different situations.  And if they do get upset, act out or withdraw, talk to them about it after you’ve helped them calm down and reconnect with you.

#4 Arrange a play date or two

This can be a fantastic way to foster friendships and make your child feel more comfortable at school.  You can always ask their teacher who they seem to be getting along with if you’re not sure.  Just check how the school wants you to communicate with the classroom teacher beforehand.  Playdates are also a nice way for you to connect with other parents at school.  No doubt you’ll need someone to remind you about an excursion permission slip or listen to you talk through your guilt at forgetting about sports uniform day at some stage in your child’s schooling journey!

 

Put these tips in place and you’ll find your child’s transition to school will be so much smoother and you’ll feel calmer.  Found this article useful?  Click the button below to share it with your friends.

 

 


Toy Central: Tummy Ache

Playing Games Together

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is a fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

 

Name of the Game

Tummy Ache – Orchard Toys

In this game, you take turns turning over cards showing different foods and drinks to put on your placemat. But watch out! There may be some bugs or creepy crawlies hiding in some of the food. The winner is the first person to make a bug-free meal.

3 ways to play

When it comes to games you don’t have to follow the instructions. Modifying the way you play means you can teach your child a whole bunch of new skills using just one game!

So, here are 3 ways to play:

1. Find your favourites and talk about the foods they have chosen

Place the picture cards facing up and ask your child to create their favourite meal and put it on their placemat. Talk about the foods they have chosen and encourage children to describe their meal.

2. Play restaurants

Take turns pretending you are at a restaurant and ‘order’ the meal that you would like to have. Your child will need to listen to your request and follow instructions as well as request what they would like to have. Make it silly by requesting for foods and drinks with bugs!

3. Catergorize food groups

Have all the picture cards face down and take turns turning them over. Ask questions for your child to begin sorting food groups whether it is a drink, side dish, main meal or dessert and put them into catergories and discuss what other foods and drinks might go into those groups.

3 skills your child can learn

  1. Turn-taking and following rule based games
  2. Vocabulary development for foods, drinks and describing words
  3. Social skills and role-play of familiar contexts

 

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