Tag Archives: childhood language development

School Tips

3 Tips on How to Help Your Child Beat the Back to School Blues

3 Tips on How to Help Your Child Beat the Back to School BluesHas your child got the back to school blues?

It’s happened to every parent. Your preschooler or kindergartner waited with baited breath the entire summer until school started. They spent hours debating the merits of various book bags, and whether or not a pencil case could do the same job as a pencil box.

That first day of school went beautifully, and then- reality hit. Suddenly the child who couldn’t wait for school to start is not only blasé, but downright uninterested in school. Asked what happened, they might answer, “That was yesterday. Not today.”

What happened? Was it something you or (gasp!) the teacher did wrong?

Probably not. There are a couple of reasons why kids often react this way to school – even if this isn’t their first year.

There are several reasons why children react negatively to school in the beginning of the year.

One reason is simply that the excitement of something new has worn off. It’s not so much different than getting gifts during holiday season: it’s hard for real life to stand up to your child’s often unrealistic expectations.

Another reason why your child’s enthusiasm wanes is because now the work part of school has hit. For some children with learning disabilities or other issues, hope springs eternal.

Although the evidence might seem to point otherwise, they’re hoping for a better year (can you blame them?), and it can be pretty disappointing when school is just as hard as it always was.

The third reason is practical: your child still needs to adjust physically and emotionally to being in school. If you’ve prepared your child for the new school year, then this is hopefully less of an issue.

Still, change is naturally harder for kids with special needs. They may be faced with situations that call on coping skills they just don’t have. Sometimes, even though it may not seem a major deal to grown-ups, even the most minor issues can leave a child worried and stressed.

Use these 3 tips to help your child feel good about school again.

Here are 3 tips you can follow to help your child make the adjustment:

1) Talk with your child about how he feels.

Some children will have a hard time doing this outright. Instead, you can read a book or make up your own story about a character in your child’s situation who was having a hard time in school.

Don’t worry about making the story resemble your child’s situation exactly; it’s unnecessary and would only make your child suspicious. Instead, change things around a little bit. When you tell the story, you can add in comments like, “Wow, I would be really embarrassed if that happened to me! Would that embarrass you?”

2) Use play to help your child problem-solve.

Very young children, children with weak language development, or children with special needs in general, are often unable to verbally problem-solve. They have a hard time finding a solution to what’s going on just by talking about it.

On the other hand, play offers an excellent opportunity to help your child learn to think logically and work on critical problem-solving skills. Floor time is an excellent tool for doing this, but if you’re not familiar with floor time (keep an eye out because I’ll be introducing some videos soon on how to do floor time properly), keep the following principle in mind: interact with your child as if you yourself were a same-aged playmate.

That means instead of commenting about your child’s play, you get involved. You gently challenge your child, just as a playmate would. By looking out for strong feelings during your child’s play, you can help them acknowledge those powerful feelings, leading the way for later problem solving.

3) Expect a certain amount of attention seeking or babyish behavior.

When a child is under stress, they often respond by acting out or behaving immaturely. That can often be annoying and frustrating for parents, who expect their “big” boy or girl to behave more maturely now that they’re in school.

Give your child attention before he acts out.

While you should not tolerate misbehavior, you can greatly minimize it by giving your child attention before he acts out. Cuddle him, play a special game together, or share a treat. For babyish behavior, it’s generally okay to baby your child a bit. They’ll get over it quick enough if you begin to praise them or a sibling when they display “big girl” behavior.

For example, you could call out “I need a big girl to help me make lunch. Is there a big girl around today?” Most children find it impossible to resist, but if your child is one of those that does resist, simply look for opportunities when they behave maturely, and give them specific praise, “Thanks for helping me with that Ethan. I saw how you figured out how to help me right away. It must be because you’re getting so big; last year you couldn’t have done that.”

Spend extra time together to help your child recharge her coping batteries.

Most importantly, don’t forget to make time to spend together doing something your child enjoys. It not only builds wonderful memories, but will give your child the emotional energy she needs to help her face the myriad difficulties that make up life – even for the pint-sized crowd.

 

 

 

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Language Development

Cat Got Your Child’s Tongue? 4 Tips on How to Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language Skills (Language Development)

The strong and silent type may be appealing in Hollywood, but when you’re faced with a child who has weak language development, the stark reality of spending days and weeks waiting for your child to reveal even the most uninteresting bits of their day quickly intrudes.

You’ve probably noticed how children with weak expressive language skills seem to bounce back and forth between two extremes: in the morning for example, you can spend a half hour trying to keep up with your youngster’s almost frantic chatter - only to find that nothing of real substance was actually said. Upon arrival from school, you then spend another half hour wishing you had trained with the FBI on information gathering techniques: your child’s mouth is closed as tight as a drum.

There are however, several tips you can use that will not only get your child talking, but help your child talk meaningfully:

1) Introduce a little variety.

Repeating the same things over and over again, whether in play or speech, is actually quite common in children with weak language development. By doing so your child creates a little island of safety that he controls.

You can gently encourage your child to break out of his routine by introducing something new into the script.

For example, if your child insists on telling you exactly what he ate, and in what amounts, every day after school, throw in a friendly, “I hear the elephant on the menu is real popular.” If your child simply ignores you, don’t give up. Simply repeat, “Did you have any?” with a smile on your face.

Don’t worry if your child waves you off with a “Dad I’m trying to tell you something.” What you’re looking for is a response (preferably related) to what you’ve said. The more your child is able to respond to your words or gestures, the more they will build their ability to communicate effectively.

2) Help your child be a problem solver.

Perhaps you tend to try and make things as easy as you can for your child; after all, they have so much else to deal with, why make it harder?

But this is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Not to be mean of course, but you need to push your child a little bit, every once a while, instead of just going along with whatever your child does. In doing so, you create a problem that forces him to take the next step, rather than just repeating the previous one.

3) Introduce new sensory experiences.

Remember how kids used to dive in a wading pool of slime and flounder monster-sized pot of spaghetti on Nickelodeon? While no one’s suggesting you recreate Prince Spaghetti day in your backyard, it does help if you try to bring in the sensory or motor processing skills that are difficult for your child.

You can introduce arm chair adventurists to textures or movements they would normally resist simply by allowing a doll or play figure to act as a substitute. This allows your child a non-threatening way to experience something they would never consider (at least while you watch).

4) Don't just comment on what your child does - help him extend the conversation.

Next time, instead of nodding absent-mindedly while your child tells you about the exploits of Dora the Explorer (for the 34th time), answer. But not with long-winded soliloquies, or with trite little remarks like, “You’re making a nuclear bomb to destroy the world? Why how lovely.”

Your child doesn’t need you to agree with them. Instead, extend what they are saying, but be sure to use simple words or phrases. For example, if your 3 year old –who usually speaks 2 or 3 words at a time - crashes his plane into the living room couch, remark, “Boom! Plane broken.”

The key to helping your child open up is engage, engage, engage. No one likes to be talked over, down to, or bugged to death. So keep things friendly.

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Language Development

3 Reasons Why Your Child Has Weak Expressive Language Skills

help your child speak betterDoes your preschooler have difficulty describing to you what went on during her day?

Does she have trouble naming objects, substituting other words like “thingie” or “that round thing with cream inside,” instead of the real word? Does she seem to describe things in the wrong order, telling you what happened last, instead of first?

There are several reasons why your child has trouble expressing themselves. Here are a few of the most important ones:

Children who have expressive language weaknesses are usually very strong visually.

Visual thinkers often have trouble with sequencing, since they are associative thinkers. If you imagine the tag cloud on a blog, then you have a good idea of how a visual thinker processes information. Ideas are not necessarily connected to each other in a linear fashion, one idea following the other in an orderly fashion.

Instead, children may jump from one topic to another, seemingly in a random order. You might see this when your child discusses something with you. She may begin talking about the new dog her best friend has, move on to swimming class, and then end up animatedly discussing the trip you took last summer.

To auditory thinkers her thinking seems disorganized and flighty, since it doesn’t follow a logical, sequential order. For your daughter, however, there was a logical order. The dog is of a breed that is good at swimming – hence swimming class came to mind. Swimming made her think of water, which reminded her of the waterfall the family saw on the trip last summer.

Your child’s visual and auditory systems don’t work well together.

In order to process language effectively, your child’s auditory and visual system need to work together most of the time. Children who have trouble expressing themselves are sometimes so strong visually that their visual system shuts down their auditory system.

On the extreme end, for example with autistic children, the visual system is so strong that the auditory system appears not to work at all. Concerned parents might initially wonder if their child is deaf, but eventually notice that their child can hear sounds when they choose (are able) to.

Other children on the spectrum, for instance, children with ADHD or moderate language disorders, seem to have great difficulty paying attention. These children don’t always respond when their names are called, have trouble following directions, or have difficulty understanding what they read or hear.

A strong visual system can actually be a wonderful benefit; many famous inventors and thinkers were visual geniuses. But in order to benefit your child has to learn how to help both systems to work together.

A weak memory makes it hard for your child to remember what he hears.

One of the most difficult factors that affect how your child processes language is their ability to remember what they hear. Since there are different types of memory, different children can be affected in different ways.

For some children, what they hear seems to go in one ear and out the other. Others can practice a math fact, letter name, or history question over and over again – only to find out in the morning that it was if they had never learned the material.

Still others may perplex parents and teachers, seemingly possessed with stellar memories. These kids can remember the teeniest bit of information, whether it was 3 days ago or 3 years ago. However when you ask them to remember a particular fact, it’s as if the system has short-circuited, and they are unable to give the right answer.

All of the above can have a serious impact on children’s language skills. Fortunately, you can help your child to improve these skills. Hands on learning games that focus on these skills can make a huge difference in helping your child express themselves more effectively.

 

 

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