Listening Skills are Key!
Much of the time in the first few classes (and throughout the year as needed) my lessons are designed to help the students become stronger listeners. This is a skill that will have an impact on all aspects of life. The first thing they learn is that it is more than just the ears at work. It takes the whole body. Can you Listen with your Eyes? by Nita Everly guides us in the discussion.
I will be also reinforcing the concept of "Give me Five" for remembering the key listening rules. This was taken from Language Strategies for Little Ones, published by Thinking Publications. The points are as follows and correspond to each finger on your hand starting with the thumb:
1.) Hands Free
2.) Ears Listening
3.) Body Still
4.) Mouth Quiet
5.) Eyes on the Speaker
Ways for Parents to Help Children Learn at Home
Reading to your child is a great way to help your child’s language development. Try these suggestions to help expand vocabulary, organize language and predict the rest of the story.
• Ask your child to name pictures in the book; talk about any words your child does not know.
• Build word associations by talking about related words & word categories. For example, you can ask about other names for “sofa” (“couch”, “loveseat,” etc.) or ask about other kinds of “furniture.”
• Talk about new words that are not in the book. For example, if you are reading a book with the words “rain,” “hail,” and “snow,” you can mention the words “storm” or “weather.”
• Ask your child to retell a story. This can help your child express thoughts in a logical order. Give cues to help with the order of the story. Say, for example, “First…,” “In the middle of the story…,” and “The story ends when….”
• During some reading time, choose a picture book that has no words. Help your child tell a logical story while looking at the pictures.
• After reading a part of a story, ask your child, “What do you think will happen next?”
• Read part of a sentence and have your child fill in the missing word(s). For example, “It was the largest insect in the whole wide ________.”
• Create new stories together. You start a story; your child adds a related part; you add the next part, etc.
Reading aloud to your child is fun and can help your child develop important language skills.
Directions can be so confusing!
Here is how you can help.
Following directions is an important life skill for all students. Like many other skills it is acquired through multiple practice opportunities and experiences.
Children who have language delays struggle with accurately completing a direction for many different reasons. Just a few possibilities are: not understanding the language or vocabulary used, having a short term memory weakness or having difficulty with processing all of the combined elements of the direction. A key to their success is for you to present the information in a simple, uncluttered manner.
When giving directions to your child:
1. Eliminate extra noises.
The noises could be from electronics in the room, sounds filtering in or even other people talking.
2. Make certain that you have your child’s full attention.
This may mean that you need to sit near them or bend down to them.
3. Talk a bit slower and in plain terms.
This gives your child time to put the information together and helps them to retain it.
4. Repeat the information.
Again, this allows for time to interpret the information and helps them remember it better.
5. Use vocabulary that you are sure your child understands.
6. Break the information into parts. (chunking)
Just pausing between each step can be beneficial.
(i.e., Go to your room…and get your laundry.)
7. Point to the object or the location
You may only need to do this at first or if it is an unfamiliar task.
8. Know what to expect from your child.
If you know that your child can only manage one descriptor and two items in a direction, increasing these aspects will only cause frustration and limit his or her success.
(i.e., “Bring me the red book and the large pencil from my bag” is easier than “Go in my bag, which is in the kitchen and get out the small red book, the eraser with dots on it and the large pencil that needs to be sharpened”)
9. Praise them.
Once the direction has been completed, tell him/her what was done correctly and don’t forget to complement. If a piece was omitted give them another try at it or talk them through it.
Helpful Homework Hints
Games for Language Building!
Yes! Games are filled with opportunities to learn about and practice using language. Turn-taking, expanding vocabulary, counting, problem solving, questioning, following directions are only a few skills addressed when playing games. The environment that games are played in is also wonderful for conversations to develop, no matter how simple. A bonus to this, when an adult plays along, the child can learn from the adult's model.
Here are just a few published games available:
Game Language Skill
UNO color, matching, concepts
Candyland colors, counting, following directions
Don't Wake Daddy matching
Don't Panic categorization, word retrieval
Dominoes matching, numbers (some have colors)
Twister color, following directions
Memory shapes, sizes, opposites, associations, memory
Pet Hunt matching, exclusion
1. Don't be afraid to alter the directions/rules so everyone can join in!
2. If it's a new game, figure out the rules with one child and then have him/her explain it to the others.
3. When it's your turn.......talk to yourself! Give a running commentary of every move you make. (i.e., "Let's see...first I need to roll the dice...one, two, three....I get to move three spaces...." etc.)
4. Have fun :-)