Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year Cometh

Free your spirit and dance with life - from Finding Joy by Charlotte Kasl
My mom and my mother-in-law are great ladies!  They are the true meaning of moms with all the cliches - and I mean that in the most loving way!  Even for the holidays, they always, for as long as I can remember have gotten something for everyone on Christmas or for Chanukah; and. . . . if there is a last minute guest. . . . that is not a problem. . . they are included with a gift. . . my moms make, and still do. . . make everyone feel loved.

Which brings about my thoughts for a quick blog regarding the new year.  A couple of years ago, my mom-in-law presented all the ladies with a small, delicate sun catcher - each one with a quote.  I received the one which I quoted above, it's from the author Charlotte Kasl.  If you know this author, you know she writes in regards to having a balanced, richer life.

I loved the quote when I received it and after setting things back in place after the holidays (basic holiday cheer being put away) the sun catcher caught my eye and I fell in love with the quote once again.  For soon, it will be a new year and I sit back and think about the year that was, did I dance all through the year?  Probably not. . . some little bumps along the way.  Then I think about how much time and thought is spent on the things that made me stop dancing. . . seconds, minutes, hours, days. . . . . any time would probably be too much if it made me stop dancing. 
Children are quite different, they could dance late into the night if we let them, and that is why I love spending so much time teaching and talking to them.  They make me think about life and fun and freeing the spirit.  That is why I want to teach them to communicate those feelings and ideas and thoughts of wonder with the best words I can give them - or make them want to say.  That is why I love to share with families - there is so much dancing left to be done and so many free spirits wanting to be heard! 

Do parents spend time during the year not dancing?  Of course we do, we have so many other things to worry about and take care of - especially when it comes to our children.  Parents want the best for their children.  Parents want their children to have what they didn't - we all strive for that everyday.  We strive for what we didn't have, but along the way, we sometimes sell out and stop dancing.

We have to remember to relax with our children and have some fun.  I know how hectic the holidays and everyday can be. . . with all the rushing and so much fussing.  But we can open a book and take a look, or sit in a chair and share, or even . . . .
talk about dancing and give them the words to dance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Getting back to Language

Wow! The holidays have come and gone - soon the year will do the same; we will be in the midst of 2012!  It seems I've forgotten how to blog during this time - uhhhh ohhhh!

Although, I will find the time to post and/or blog more for the new year.  Sharing of ideas, learning, listening and language is all a part of now and always.

I have an idea which evolved from reading one of my favorite blogs this morning, thought about it all day and want to put it in writing this evening.  I believe it will be great for my students at school and even better as something to put into action at home.  The power of language can be a gift, and if you can have a conversation you can pass the gift of language from one person to another, and from there the gift will grow.  As it always has been, old teach the new. 
The first unit I'll work on when children return to school will be winter; cold, snow, snowman, seasons and clothes.  The children will build vocabulary and use it in simple to complex sentence patterns and structuring language.  The introduction will begin with the older students discussing and reading a story about one of the mentioned topics for the unit.  For instance, Jan Brett's The Hat, has animals and clothing-those can be categories learned for younger students.  This story also has idioms presented by each of the animals in the story and are great for older students to learn and understand.  Another story by this author for second and third graders - Hedgie's Surprise,  great as Reader's Theater, but even better at sequencing a story and again, learning about animals along with their babies.  We'll have a great time re-enacting the story, developing vocabulary and deciding on repeated sentence patterns; even discussing the meanings of repeated lines with idioms. I guess this part of language building makes me the elder and them the young ones - Ah ha!  Anyway, I digress, we will then make a gift box with items from the story and the older students can decide from there how to show or use the items with the younger students.  All of it must spark language and a conversation to begin between them.  What the older students do from there is up to them - but I'm crossing my fingers and I'm hoping they insist on creating amongst themselves.  Adults not invited until they are finished!
What about parent and child - the same concept in hand; can you imagine!! Jan Brett's book, The Hat, has the animals running around the farm yard trying different pieces of clothing to become their perfect warm winter hat. Kind of like that 'Easter bonnet' you are suppose to show off!  Can you imagine!!! you, the parent/caregiver, running around the house with your child running after you, to find the perfect hat. 
I can imagine 'the language coming and is turning into conversation'!!!
 The gift of language is alive and doing well and the conversations of 2012 will be great!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Words Have Meaning

The English language is such a complex system!  While I attended graduate school for my Masters in Speech Science, I didn't think I was ever going to get through development of, or the system of our language.  It was definitely a love/hate relationship!  In those years, I learned words have meaning - in sooooo many different ways.

 My husband, to this day, tells my son on every consultative conversation they have: "Your words have meaning, son - make sure you are saying the right thing - you need to convey exactly what you mean"; or on every 'man-to-man' discussion, "Your words have meaning - make sure you don't hurt the person you are talking to. . .'

As the years keep moving by, I've realized (once again) how much language matters and how so very important it is to tell parents and the students I work with. . . words have meaning.
As baby develops, language and speech develop.  They learn (as a part of brain development) their sounds and voice convey a message because some noise always gets them noticed.  A caregiver knows the baby's language and speech are developing because they have learned that each message is evolving into something they understand!

Those individuals with a hearing loss, lose some of that information and lose it at varying degrees depending on onset of loss and degree of loss, but words still have meaning. . . . that doesn't change.
So I teach children and parents to convey that meaning early on. . . in varying situations. . . in a 1000 different ways.  As an activity is introduced within a therapy session, I always write in my notes how to use or implement at home.  From there, the parent and I brainstorm about how to incorporate into other areas of life, activities and/or language - because words have meaning.  i.e. 'up' - pick me up, let's go up, put up, pick up (noun vs. verb - think about it!), dress up, move up. . . it's exhausting! Of course start with what you do for the baby first, but think of introducing all those other language, speech, idioms as the baby gets older and is a child, tween, teen, adult!

Here is an example of the season; (bless their hearts) - a therapy session with three or four 2nd/3rd graders diagnosed with language/speech impairment secondary to hearing impairment.  We are going over holiday vocabulary and try to think of synonyms for particular vocabulary words.  The word 'Santa' comes up from the vocabulary deck - not one child realized; besides the word 'Santa Claus', that 'St. Nick', 'Jolly ol' St. Nick', or Nicolas are various words for Santa. They've heard the songs and read the words, but they just thought it was some man who liked the holidays!  Guess what the lesson turned into!

Words have meaning. . . . we want to give every opportunity to teach what we know and love - language! That being said,

May the meaning of the season mean all you want it to - and be a true part of your family's language.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's  your own self.  So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people.  That comes afterwards, when you have worked on your own corner.                   Aldous Huxley
 Well, here we are, December!  The students love it, I love it, and everyone else. . . . well, it is December! 

I love this time of year because my house changes, the city changes, and the weather changes - all for the better.  At least I think so, and I think so because this is the time of year when I think about starting anew.  The year is almost over and I can throw it out the window.  I can think of all the things I didn't finish and/or accomplish and say - "Oh well, let's see if I can do this again." 
Maybe you think of this part of the year as just the end of the year.  Maybe you have another part of the year you enjoy better.  That really is okay - because everyone is different and everyone has choices.  Everyone likes what they like; change what they feel is important.  This time of year is my choice and where I begin to think about change.

The one item I won't change - is my love for my work and working with children - it is all consuming at times, a sleepless night sometimes, and exhausting sometimes.  But for me it is all worth it.  I do use this time to reflect on families (mine and those I work with) to realize just because I have done something for me and mine, doesn't mean those I work with have to follow it exactly.  Variety is the many facets of life!  Variety and change are several facets . . . waiting for the work that comes.
For those I have pushed my judgements on and my way of thinking; I am truly sorry, for those I have moved into thoughts which have changed their way of thinking and they liked it - yea!!
And for those I have lost for being so pushy - those are the ones I'll miss the most.  But I am learning, I am learning that my corner has to be the one that needs improving first - and if you learn something along the way - yea!!

The last item for December and the new item for the new year - improving my corner with new ideas and teaching and working therapy. Short and sweet and to the point - oh what a plan that should be!