Book Central - Where is the Green Sheep?

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 makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they 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.

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

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

What’s it about?

This is a fun and colourful book that will have your child hooked from the start! It follows a wildly wonderful adventure in search for the green sheep. Before you find the green sheep, you and your child will be introduced to many other sheep along the way who are doing wild and wonderful things. Each page will leave you wondering when the green sheep will be found.

Our top 3 tips

1. Talk with your child about what is happening on each page.

As this book has limited print, it encourages the reader to be creative and generate their own descriptions and discussions for each page. Ask your child to describe the sheep on each page and why they have been given their name (e.g. “the bed sheep”, “the band sheep”). Your child will learn specific vocabulary related to the text and encourage their use of descriptive language.

2. Point out the different concepts and descriptors on each page (e.g. little, big, high, low, tall, short, etc.).

You can link them to real life examples to help solidify their learning (e.g. “Look this sheep is tall like a giraffe”).

3 Use the text as conversation starters (e.g. “so sheep really go swimming?”).

This will help your child extend their language by using reasoning and higher-level thinking skills.

 

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Toy Central - Mr Potato Head

Playing the right games in the right way

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 make 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 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 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

Mr. Potato Head by Hasbro

Image Credit: Hasbro

What’s it about?

Mr. Potato Head is a game that allows children to use their imagination to mix and match different combinations of outfits for Mr. Potato. This game is great for our toddlers and preschool-aged children who love to build. Mr. Potato Head now comes in a variety of outfits and themes such as Avengers and Star Wars.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on vocabulary

Mr. Potato Head is filled with so many opportunities for developing basic vocabulary. Singing the nursery rhyme ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ is a great way to encourage our toddlers to learn and use common words such as ‘shoes’ and ‘eyes’. Once your child is able to sing along with you, leave some words out of the nursery rhyme and encourage them to fill it in. Setting up predictable patterns of language, such as nursery rhymes of common phrases like ‘ready, set, go’ is a great way to encourage language use for toddlers who are late to talk.

2. Have more than one

If you are lucky enough to have two sets of Mr. Potato Head, you can build on your child’s visual-matching abilities by first completing a Mr. Potato head yourself then letting your child copy. This is also a great one for introducing the concept of ‘same’ vs ‘different’. For preschool-aged children, you could also deconstruct your Mr. Potato Head then ask your child to recreate it the same way you did. This helps them use their visual memory skills.

3. Practice requesting

Mr. Potato Head can be used as a resource for developing your child’s ability to request. A simple activity you can do with Mr. Potato Head is to have all the pieces in front of you, while your child only has Mr. Potato’s body. Your child is then has to ask for all the pieces using their talking skills (e.g., “Can I have a nose, please?”). See if you can extend your child's request by 1 word. For example, if your child is currently requesting by saying "nose", you can model "want nose" then wait and see if they'll copy your words.

And don't forget the most important thing: HAVE FUN TOGETHER!

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Book Central - The Very Brave Bear

Reading the Right Books the Right Way

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 not read have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they 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.

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

The Very Brave Bear By Nick Bland

What’s it about?

This book is a part of a series of books that follow The Very Cranky Bear and his adventures. In this book, the bear is back and this time he is facing Boris Buffalo in a battle of bravery. But something surprises them both resulting in them fleeing through the forest in fear. This book is full of vibrant illustrations and a fun, engaging story which children will love to read aloud.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on rhyming words

As you’re reading with your child, point out the rhyming words, talk about how/why they rhyme and ask them to try to think of another word that rhymes. This will help strengthen their phonological awareness skills which they must have to learn to read successfully.

2. Spark a conversation

Have a discussion with your child about each thing that the bear and buffalo do on each page. Ask some questions but not too many. Questions like 'Is that scary?', 'what would you do if that happened?', 'how would you feel about that?', 'Is the bear brave or is the buffalo brave?' and 'What does it mean to be brave?' are great for sparking conversation and expanding your child’s emotional vocabulary.

3. Ask your child to retell the story

After you have finished reading the book together, ask your child to tell back the main things that happened in the story. Help them to remember the correct sequence of the activities that the buffalo and bear completed to show how brave they are. Encourage them to use words like first, then and last. This will help them to understand the structure of stories and make up their own.

 

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Clear speech: 3 tips to help your child say the 'f' sound

Do you have a child who can’t say the ‘f’ sound?

Perhaps they say ‘pish’ for ‘fish’ or ‘cottee’ for ‘coffee’. These mistakes can definitely sound cute when they’re young however once your child gets to a certain age they need to be able to say these words correctly. If you let your child say words the wrong way for too long it can make the mistakes harder to fix. And if you leave it until they start school, your child is very likely to have trouble learning to read and spell. And we know you don’t want that for them so keep reading for 3 tips on helping your child say the ‘f’ sound correctly. 

So when is the right time to try to fix the ‘f’ sound?

The answer is once your child is older than 3 years of age. If your child isn’t 3 years old yet don’t try to fix it. They won’t be ready and it’ll just end in frustration for both you and them. But if your child is older than 3 then now is the time to work on getting it right. There are many ways to teach children to say sounds correctly and here are 3 of our top tips for the ‘f’ sound:

Show them how to say it

The first tip in teaching your child to say the ‘f’ sound is to get down on their level and show them how to say the sound. Say just the sound itself and be right in front of them. Don’t try it in words like ‘fish’. That’ll be too tricky for them, they won’t succeed and they’ll either get frustrated or not want to try again. Ask them to copy you and see how they go.

Explain to them how to say it

Some simple instructions on how to say the ‘f’ sound can be really helpful for your child. Now, different instructions work for different children so be prepared to try a few ways. You could tell them to “bite your lip and blow” or “make a rabbit face and blow”. If one work, stick with it! 

Use a mirror for visual feedback

Your child will really benefit from seeing what they’re doing with their mouth so use a mirror. If you’ve got a mirror on your wardrobe just sit on the floor in front of it or head to the bathroom and use the mirror there. Just make sure they can see themselves. You may need a small step. You make the sound and see if they can copy your mouth movements to make the sound too. Give them the instructions on how to make the sound at the same time. 

Please be aware the above does not replace professional advice. If you’re worried about your child’s speech please contact a Speech Pathologist. Click here to send our Speech Pathologists a message today.


Should I use baby sign with my child?

If you’re deciding whether to sign with your baby then keep reading because that’s just what this article is about. There are a bunch of baby sign programs out there that come with claims that signing will make your child talk sooner, give them bigger vocabularies, better thinking skills and reduce frustration. The problem is that they just don’t have the evidence to back them up. 

 

Whilst teaching your child some simple signs won’t be detrimental to their development, most children don’t need them. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Whether you choose to use sign or not here are 3 tips that will help your child learn to communicate:

 

1. Get down to your child’s level

This simple act shows your child that they have your full attention. And they can give you theirs in return because they’re not craning their neck to look at you. It’s also super useful for helping your child look at your face and tune in to your expressions.

 

2. Keep it simple 

You don’t have to use a formal sign program.  You may find you’re already using a bunch of gestures when you talk to your child. It’s very natural to do this! So, stick with what comes naturally and it’ll help conversation flow smoothly.

 

3. Say the word with the sign

Whenever you use a sign or gesture make sure you’re saying the word too. This will help your child connect the object or action to the corresponding sign as well as the spoken word. They need to make these connections to learn to talk.

 

There are times that a child will need a more formal signing program. However, this should only be introduced under the guidance of a paediatric Speech Pathologist.  If your child is having trouble learning to talk, seek help from a profession as soon as possible.  A paediatric Speech Pathologist will be able to do a thorough assessment and work out what help your child needs to communicate effectively. 

 

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The 3 mistakes you need to avoid if you have a child with unclear speech

If you have a child with unclear speech then keep reading as this article is for you. Unclear speech is part of typical development. Children make mistakes as they’re learning to talk. But if these mistakes persist as they get older it increases the chances of your child having a bunch of difficulties that you don’t want them to experience.  

 

It’s important to remember that every child does develop at a different rate however there are some key speech milestones they must reach to become a clear and confident talker. If they don’t reach these milestones their speech will be hard for other people to understand and they won’t be able to get their message across successfully. When this happens your child’s likely to get frustrated and act out or lose confidence and avoid talking.

 

So if your child’s speech is unclear, here are 3 mistakes to avoid making with them:

 

1. Repeating their mistake

Some of the mistakes children make when they’re learning to talk are super cute and some are just downright hilarious! It can be really tempting to repeat back the way your child says the word because it just sounds so cute. The problem is, when you do this, you’re reinforcing their incorrect pronunciation of the word. By repeating it incorrectly you’re sending them the message that that’s how they should say the word. Then, if your child ends up needing therapy it can take far longer to correct these words. So, if your child mispronounces a word, repeat it back to them using the correct pronunciation no matter how cute it sounded. 

 

2. Putting it down to laziness

As an adult who’s got clear speech, chances are you take for granted how complex learning to speak clearly is for children. Let’s be honest, all of us are programmed to take the path of least resistance. When it comes to talking, that path is to talk clearly because then we’re easily understood and get our needs met quickly. We don’t have to repeat ourselves, try to fix what we’ve said or show the person what we mean because they’re not getting it. So, when your child is using unclear speech it’s not because they’re being lazy, it’s because they can’t speak clearly yet. 

 

3. Waiting to get help

Well meaning family and friends may tell you not to worry. They may tell you stories of how their child or another child they know “caught up” or “grew out of it”. Your GP may tell you to wait because they think your child is too young.  Whilst these people mean well, their advice can be detrimental to your child. Speech delays take time to fix and research shows that children who go to school with unclear speech are very likely to have difficulty learning to read and spell. If you’re worried about your child’s speech, get them assessed by a paediatric Speech Pathologist. They’ll be able to tell you whether it’s ok to wait or not. 

 

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How to use water to get your child talking more

Do you want to know how to get your child talking more and reduce their frustration and tantrums? Then keep reading...

Now, as your baby gets older their thinking skills develop more and have lots of things they want to tell you about. They want to ask you for more milk, they want to tell you about their favourite toy, they want to find out where Mummy is when she leaves the room...normally within the first 3 seconds!  But if they don’t have the words to use can’t do this and that typically leads to massive frustration and tantrums. So if you’ve got a child who isn’t talking yet or only using 1-3 word little sentences when they talk then keep reading because I’m going to give you 3 ways to help them talk more and reduce their frustration using water play.

 

So, one of the magic ingredients for talking is water. Now stick me and I’ll explain how you can use this super cheap, readily available stuff to get your child talking more. There are a bunch of ways you can use water with your kid and don’t worry it’s not messy. Do the play outside and all you’ll potentially need is a change of clothes for afterwards. Today, I’m going to focus on 1 water play activity you can do with babies through to preschoolers and your school age kids will probably enjoy them too just quietly. Now the activity is 1 part but the most important part of the play is what you do with your child so I’m going to give you 3 strategies that will help your child talk more and reduce their frustration.

 

For this first water play activity you’ll need to raid your kitchen. Grab a bunch of different sized pots or mixing bowls, funnels, spoons, a sieve. Fill up a jug with water and outside you go with your child. I call this activity ‘mix and pour’. It’s simply pouring and mixing the water using the different containers and utensils you’ve got. But you’ve got to use the strategies otherwise you’re child won’t be learning any new words. So, the strategies.

 

First, is to create a temptation or a reason for them to communicate with you. Don’t pour the water straight into the bowl. Hold off and look expectantly at child as if you’re waiting for them to tell you what to do with the water. Then if they tell you to pour only pour a little bit in and wait again. It’s a really natural way to encourage your child to use words to get their message across to you.

 

Second, once you’ve poured the water in, watch what your child is doing and copy them. Kids love it when you copy what they’re doing and they’re then more likely to copy you back including your copying your words. So , if your child is splashing you splash too, if your child is dipping their fingers in you dip too, if your child is stirring you grab another spoon and stir too.

 

And lastly, you want to make comments as you’re playing together. Not questions but comments. So not what are you doing? But rather pour the water, scoop the water, mix it around. There are so many more words your child will hear, pay attention to and learn when you make comments as they play. Make comments on actions like the ones I just said, make comments about the utensils you’re using oh a big bowl, the spoon is little and also how things feel oh the water is cold, your shirt is wet, a rough sieve.

 

So those are 3 ways to help your child talk more using mix and pour water play: create temptations to use words, copy what they’re doing and make comments as you play.

 

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