As a long-time yoga practitioner, I jumped at the opportunity to begin studying with Sonia Sumar, the creator of Yoga for the Special ChildⓇ. Through her experiences with her own daughter, who was born with Down Syndrome, Sonia designed a Hatha Yoga program that was modified to meet the needs of children with a wide variety of speech, language and learning disorders, as well as those with physical disabilities and genetic disorders. She has shaped this practice over the past 40 years, and I have had the pleasure of training with her over the past two years. So, why do I think that yoga is the perfect supplement for a speech and language program?
Recently, I returned to my work with the little ones. There is really no better feeling than figuring out the puzzle pieces of a little one and watching magic happen! The great thing about early childhood is that once you solve the puzzle, the magic happens so quickly! If you want to watch your little one’s speech flourish, follow these tips.
Eye contact is key Always place your child in a way that they can see your face and your mouth. We have a tendency to place children with their backs propped on us, unless we are feeding. Babies receive lots of social cues and signals from our eyes and focus on our mouth to try to figure out how we do that thing called speaking. For a child 0-5 months, I like to sit with my knees bent and child leaning and propped between my knees and my thighs. For children who are beginning to sit independently, I support the back with the heels of my feet while the child is safely supported by the circle of my legs. Read more
The holiday season is here! It is a busy time for everyone, filled with holiday gatherings, visits from family and friends, and shopping–but it is also the perfect time for you to maximize your child’s language skills. Here are 3 quick and easy tips for you to incorporate into the next few weeks to make sure your child continues to meet his/her speech/language goals.
1. Guess My Gift
This is a great game for children aged 6-10 and it helps with word retrieval, language processing, auditory memory, and even inferencing skills. You and your child can take turns giving each other hints about their favorite present desires. When I play, I tell the child that they will get 3 clues, and I try to give my clues in an organized and predictable way each time (category/function/descriptor). For example:
“I want something that is a pet. It likes to purr. It has whiskers.”
It is then the child’s turn to give you clues. For an added bonus, you can have the child write the items in the form of a list so that they can practice writing skills as well.
2. Catalog Browse
Somehow, I am on the mailing list for every major catalog ever. I hate to waste paper, so I like to repurpose my clothing and furniture catalogs. With younger children (age 3-5), I like to find an assortment of pictures and have the child place into categories (i.e. furniture, clothing, toys). With my 5-6 year olds, we use the catalogs to play a game of “I Spy”. My 6-8 year olds can use the catalogs to practice their descriptive language use by talking about the characteristics of the clothing/furniture on each page and by comparing different items in the catalog.
3. Cooking Projects
Children love to be helpers in the kitchen. Thanks to Pinterest, there are a million different ideas for every holiday, such as these dreidels or these reindeer. You can even use cookie cutters to talk about shapes with your little 2-3 year olds! Cooking is a great way for children to practice their sequencing skills (what comes first, next, and last)…and obviously there is a delicious treat at the end!
4. Holiday Cards
With the rise of the internet, the art of letter-writing is a dying trend. Kids LOVE writing letters, and my students can’t get enough of addressing envelopes! This is a great way for your school aged child to practice their spelling and writing organization. I like to give the child a format to follow, rather than just having them write “Happy Holidays, Love Jocelyn”. Try this one:
Dear Aunt ____________,
Question to the reader
Statement about yourself
5. Wrap Presents
This is another great way for children to use crafts and practice sequencing steps of an activity. Wrapping gifts is a very teachable skill (and a very easy task for small fingers!) Your child will love being able to help wrap gifts for their aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. abuse contacts . You can even have your child design their own wrapping paper! Start by giving your child one step at a time (i.e. First, measure the paper around the box). If you see that they can do this, go to 2 or 3 steps at a time (i.e. Next fold each corner in like a triangle and tape upward).
Addressing your child’s speech and language goals doesn’t have to take a pause during busy season. Happy holidays to all and good luck adding some holiday cheer for your little dear.
It is a well known fact that humans need to sleep. It should not be a surprise to you that in our fast-paced, go-get-em world, we do not get enough of it. According to the Center of Disease Control, close to 40% of adults aged over 16 years old reported that they get less than the minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night. The same statistic is true for children, who require a much longer amount of sleep–around 12-14 hours for preschoolers and 11-12 hours for children in elementary school. So, just what exactly are the risks of sleep deprivation?
Recently, there was an article in the New York Times which pointed to lack of sleep as a possible culprit for the overabundance of ADHD in children. In adults, lack of sleep leads to excessive yawning, sleepiness, and sometimes falling asleep on the job. In children, however, the effect is quite the opposite. Children who receive less than the recommended 12 hours of shut-eye each night tend to be hyperactive, and sometimes even aggressive. In the classroom, these kids are the ones who cannot sit still for the entirety of the lesson. At times, they are disruptive to the rest of the class. Their less than optimal sleep schedule puts them at risk for being (wrongly) diagnosed with a learning disability.
With school just around the corner, it is a great time to get your children on a solid sleep schedule so that they can have the most success this coming school year.
Maintain a Daily Sleep Schedule
Life is hectic, and with young children, there is always something going on! Try to make bedtime a consistent routine for your family. Bedtime is a great way to bond with your child by discovering a new favorite book. To begin with, get children into their routine 30-45 minutes before their actual bed time so that they have time to relax (and ask for a 2nd book!)
There is a time and a place for technology. The bedroom is not one of them. Limit video games to 2 hours before bedtime, and if possible, eliminate the television, computers, cell phones and other electronics for your child’s bedroom. By eliminating the light transmitted from these devices, children will have an easier time falling asleep.
If properly fueled by sleep, children do not need external energy!
Make it Cozy
The bedroom should be a place your child wants to go to to relax after a long and tiring day. Make sure the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool by covering windows with opaque curtains and by running fans and heaters to maintain an optimal temperature.
By setting the foundation early, you will put your child on a path to success both at school and at home.
For more information on Childhood Sleep Disorders, visit Kids Sleep Disorders Awareness.