Winter Warmers: Snuggle with a Book Winter has arrived! Cold weather is the perfect opportunity to snuggle those wriggly little bodies on our laps, hold them tight and share a book. Books are bundles of magic when it comes to developing our children’s communication skills. The warmth of physical and emotional interaction, the new words that can be discussed, and the thought provoking questions that are asked, go a long way to helping your child develop interpersonal communication, vocabulary, verbal expression and thinking skills. Choose books that interest your child. For younger children, look for books with appealing illustrations that relate to your child’s experiences. Older pre-schoolers who like to sit and listen may be ready to hear some more complex stories from chapter books. If your child is not ready to listen to a whole story, don’t worry about reading all the words. Look at the pictures and have a chat about what is happening. Take time to sit and snuggle with a book or two today.
Winter Warmers: Create a bit of Chaos in the Kitchen When it’s stormy outside, it’s a great time to cook up a storm in the kitchen. Our little ones love to be involved in whatever we do in the kitchen. Whilst we can become anxious about their involvement and frustrated with their efforts, allowing them to join us is wonderful opportunity for communication and language learning. The world of cooking opens up new vocabulary (e.g. slice, temperature, ingredients), new opportunities to follow sequences, and provides exposure to new skills. It’s never too early to bring a child into the kitchen. Your baby or toddler can sit in her high chair while you talk about what you’re doing. Pre-schoolers can be given spoons for mixing, bowls for licking and blunt knives to chop soft ingredients such as bananas or butter. Time together in the kitchen will not only produce the next generation of ‘Master Chefs’, but give you opportunities to add new words and concepts to your child’s language. Have fun cooking up some creative communication!
Winter Warmers: Watch a Movie Winter is a great time to snuggle on the lounge or lay on the floor with your small person and enjoy a good movie. Watching a movie together can be a great opportunity to learn language and practice communication. The key to successful communication is watching the movie TOGETHER. Before you start the film, ask your child what he thinks the movie will be about? Who will be in it? What does she think might happen? Take some time to pause the movie at key moments in the plot. Talk about what has happened and help your child to make some predictions about what might come next. Talk about new words your child may hear. What did the character mean? Why did he make that choice? What other options did she have? After the movie is finished, talk about what would have happened if…? Could there have been a better/different ending? Take time to enjoy some conversation. What’s screening at your house this week?
Winter Warmers: Rug Up The cooler weather often means that we are spending more time around clothes such as putting on extra layers or sitting amongst drying clothes. Whilst you might be frustrated with the mountain of laundry, you can use the extra time around clothing as a learning opportunity for your child. Helping to sort the washing and talking about clothes develops our children’s vocabulary and word organisation skills. Take two items of clothing and ask your child to tell you what is something the same and something different about them. For example, you can hold up a t-shirt and a pyjama top and compare them. Both have sleeves, both are made from soft fabric, both are worn on our bodies, but the differences may include the length of the sleeves and when or where we wear them. You can talk about clothing in terms of size, colour, when and where we wear it, the parts that it has (e.g. zip, button, collar, sleeve, cuff, hood) where we keep it and what it’s made from. Be specific when giving names to the items. Remember ‘tops’ can be labelled as shirts, t-shirts, blouses etc. Little people love to be helpful. Remember that work time can always be ‘talk time’.
Written by Alison Speech Pathologist Newcastle Speech Pathology