Collaboration Corner: 10 Easy Tips for Parents to Support Language

ice cream

As we make our way through the lazy days of summer, schedules change, and things relax. My usual theme is collaboration; parents can be one of our biggest assets in promoting language development. Parents of young children usually want to know what they can do to support their child’s language development in the absence of a structured day. Though I teach children with disabilities, I find I continually revisit the following tips with parents of young children regardless of whether a child is typically developing or needs a little more support. Here they are in no particular order of importance:

  1. Pay attention to body language, when a child is looking toward or reaching for something, they are communicating. Talk about what they are reaching for, “Oh, you want the bubbles!”
  2. Avoid the “say this” tendency. Don’t pressure the child to speak; keeping the experience positive is important. Instead, model what the child might say when he/she is ready.
  3. Take time to sit and read with your child every day. Label everything you see, and encourage them to point to the words and pictures as you talk about them. Books with repetitive lines are great.
  4. Be playful. Sing songs. Use lots of inflection. With familiar songs, leave some of the words out and see if your child will hum or sing the words.
  5. Provide limited choices when you aren’t sure what your child wants. Holding out 2 items, lessens the stress of having too many choices.
  6. Talk with your child about what you are doing, then provide the opportunity for your child to reciprocate. “I’m making some cookies, do you want to help?”
  7. Use first/then language to guide behavior, and then be consistent, “First you need to eat, then you can read.” Use this language even when moving between activities that are preferred or less preferred.
  8. Use pictures: Take pictures of your child’s day and talk about what is coming up next, or make a photo album of fun activities (vacation, going out for ice cream) to talk about.
  9. Remember language is everywhere, even if you child doesn’t understand everything you are saying, he or she needs the exposure. Car rides, walks outside, blowing bubbles are just a few examples. Describe what you see, and ask questions, e.g, “I see a cow. What does a cow say?”
  10. Simplify your props. Sometimes the simplest toys can bring out the best language. Summer is full of such opportunities: A spinning toy, taking a turn kicking a ball, bubbles…all can support your child’s development, simply by talking to them.

Kerry Davis Ed.D., CCC-SLP,is a speech-language pathologist in the Boston area, working with children who have significant communication challenges. She conducts trainings and workshops, and serves as a volunteer speech pathologist and consultant for Step by Step Guyana, a school for children with autism in South America. The opinions expressed in this blog are her own, and not those of her employer.

CFY (Coming For You)!

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I’m a big fan of musical theater (I was so excited Jessie Mueller won a Tony this year.  She was wonderful.). I’m in awe of the performers who seem to sing, dance and act with equal aplomb.  And then they go out and do it in front of a live audience.  Every day.  Twice on Wednesday and Saturday. Where do they find the endurance?

Well, baby, I’ve got news for you.  You’re about to star in your own show.

There is no denying the difficulty of grad school. You’re taking classes in everything, even the stuff that might not be your cup of tea.  Ideally, your clinical fellowship year is in an area you particularly enjoy and the everyday implementation of book learned skills will certainly give you many ah-ha moments. What can be difficult is the frequent observation, knowing, or maybe not knowing, that someone is on the other side of that two way mirror.  There is a feeling of being constantly “on.”  Even paperwork remains a performance. I would drop into bed at night, completely spent.

I actually had two CFY experiences.  The first was my dream job. I was a preschool therapist in a local school system and my job included home visits/evaluations, lessons within the preschool handicap classroom, individual pull-out therapy for many of those same kids, other children that came only for speech, and screenings–lots and lots of screenings.  I’d been working at my school practicum the previous spring in the same location so I knew the staff, some of the kids and had a relationship with my supervisor.

Then life intervened.  My husband and I married in early August which gave us time to honeymoon before the first day of school.  But as the saying goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men….”  Within the first month my husband was transferred to Atlanta, a five to six hour drive from where we were living, and needed to move immediately.  I gave notice that I would leave at the Christmas holiday, started packing our wedding gifts and began to look for a new placement.  (Yes, my husband left a couple months before I did.  Not an auspicious start to married life, but we made it work.)

My second placement was equally as dreamy–out-patient rehab for a large children’s hospital with lots of experienced therapists, including OT and PT, to learn from and watch. The experience I gained there truly shaped the clinician I am today.  So much so, that if I were to give one bit of advice to a new therapist starting out it would be to work where you have lots of interaction with more experienced clinicians. I know you’re sick of being watched, guided, and yearn to start doing your own thing, but…for me, it was the best possible thing that could have happened. (This is where I spent two years exhausted.  I was finally starting to get my feet under me, doing some mentoring myself, and feeling less stressed by the whole process when, guess what, transferred again.)

I share this because I think we get so close to a situation we aren’t seeing it anymore. My situation was unique, but these things come up for lots of reasons.  Sometimes CFYs take place in more than one location or setting.  There might be a short “pause” right in the middle. It’s ok.  Show close and new ones open.  Break a leg!

 

Kim Lewis is a pediatric clinician in Greensboro, NC and blogs atActivityTailor.com.  Attendance at the ASHA convention this fall qualified her for an ACE award (7.0+ CEUs in a 36 month period).

 

Favorite Resources: Fiction and Non-Fiction Texts

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School based SLPs often look to align their intervention goals with academic content standards to increase student success in the classroom. Many of these goals align with English Language Arts standards. Goals for vocabulary, comprehension, and articulation can be targeted easily using fiction and non-fiction texts. Using reading passages is a perfect way to support reading skills and curriculum. It’s also an easy way to incorporate current events or seasonal information as well. I wanted to share four different resources I used for my caseload this year.

The

1. Newsela.com
Newsela is a site that takes regular news articles and changes the lexile level for a variety of readers. You can select the article, then pull it up on your screen. On the right side of the screen you can select a variety of lexile levels from 3rd grade up to the regular adult version.This is perfect for mixed groups.
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I love to use it for middle schoolers reading at lower lexile levels.
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We also use these in my articulation groups. This 7th grade student went through and highlighted each /r/ word.
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As he reads the page, I marked each sound with a +/-. Then we go back and work on the words he missed. This resource is free.
2. ReadWorks.org
ReadWorks is another fantastic free resource. I love their units for seasonal reading. Sign up for a free membership. You can search using the calendar at the bottom of the home page. There are resources for Kindergarten and up.
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They even have whole units for free for common books you already have on the shelf! Take time to search through and find units that are made to teach specific skills.
3. ReadingA-Z.com 
Many  districts pay for teachers and SLPs to have access to ReadingA-Z.com. I use it a lot and would recommend it to any SLP working with school aged students. I also have access to VocabularyA-Z. Let me show you some favorite resources within it.
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Leveled books used to be the meat of ReadingAZ. Lately they have added a whole lot more, but these are still my Go-To!
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Once you open a leveled book, you have many options. Print the book, share on a Smartboard, or print additional worksheets.
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I love the vocabulary connections most of all.  Since we have a subscription to VocabularyA-Z there are sets of  vocabulary lessons for EVERY BOOK!
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This is such a huge time saver for me. It takes the planning out of vocabulary practice!
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There are special lessons for ELL/ESL. These are great for language learners and for daily living skills units.  There are printable books that focus on feelings, vocabulary (vegetables, money, etc.), and places (neighborhood, school).
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The website also includes decodable books.  They are divided by sounds and even blends. These are  great for articulation practice.
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One section of ReadingAZ features comic books. Lots of my reluctant readers /language delayed  kids love comic books.
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The last feature I frequently use is the write your own story books. Most of the lower leveled books are available in the ‘write your own’ format. You can either print the regular book or print the wordless book. This is an easy way to progress monitor a variety of grammar and narrative skills. Of course it’s great for direct instruction, too! If you’re working on retell you can read the story with the words first and then use the ‘write your own’ version to support retell.
ReadingAZ is a paid subscription. Look into the free trial if you haven’t used it before.
4. N2Y.com
News-2-You is a symbol based weekly newspaper. It’s my ‘go-to’ for daily living skills classes and autism classrooms. I love the predictability and the symbol support. You can also download many levels of  instruction.
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This is the ‘regular version.
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The simplified version has less text.
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This is the ‘higher’ version (but still not the highest offered.)
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Did you know they have a spanish edition?
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I love the pre-made communication boards and the recipes included. I use the app frequently with my students.N2Y is a subscription based program. You would not be disappointed if you purchased it. I promise!
Those four resources are websites I use every week to support my instruction.  SLPs can use them as part of their instruction or as a way to provide homework, align their intervention goals with academic content standards in order to increase student success in the classroom.

Jenna Rayburn, MA, CCC-SLP. is a school based speech-language pathologist from Columbus, Ohio. She writes at her blog, Speech Room News. You can follow her on facebooktwitter, instragram and pinterest.