Sunday, December 9, 2012

Language and the Holidays

Many of the most memorable times in my family were the traditional holidays we shared and of course  still do!  I love each and everyone of them.  Of course, all the holidays I remember were centered around the children and having fun.  Children were constantly talking; family was constantly talking - language and conversation was the grand scheme of every holiday!
In my family, we celebrated the festival of lights - Chanukah!  As soon as the children were able, they recited the blessing for the candles and grandmothers handed out Chanukah gelt!  My Zayde centered his entire evening around the children, he loved having us by his side and telling us stories.  My grandmother loved handing out gifts and food.
In my husband's family, their Christmas Eve was nothing but family - at church, at home, and around the table.  After dinner, everyone was around their tree with the children in the middle of the floor.  His father told each of the children a riddle - and the children looked around or discussed what they thought their riddle meant and what present was coming their way.
As you can see, conversation, time together, and talking was a part of our lives and we continued those traditions into our life with our son - on both religious tracks, as long as we were together and talking to him all the time.  He always had the best of mommy and daddy! He always had the best of both families and it continues to this day.  'The best of' includes little ones being the center of attention and everyone talking!
One of my favorite websites has some information for Language fun and the holidays - if you have the love of family like I do - check it out! I bet you already do some of these things, if you don't it's a great way to learn and incorporate language.

Holidays and Language are just one more reason to share with your child and bring about the art of listening and communicating.  Another way to combine two favorites of mine - books and the holidays, whether I am reading them or giving them as gifts.  You can do so much through a book.  The stories you can tell and the conversations you can have.  The playing that will come about and the pretending, imagining and games you will love to have over and over again with your child.  My son's favorite book was 'BJ Funnybunny and the Great Tricycle Race' - over and over again - even during the holiday season.  The great thing about reading over and over again, your child learns the rhythm and movement of speech.  They memorize their favorite books and will 'call you out' on messing up the reading or skipping pages.  Go ahead - I dare you - change the words of your child's favorite book and see what happens.  You will know if they have been listening.  And if you don't have a favorite with your child - create one!  This website leads you to a world of great books and they can be as interactive as you want them to be - but they are great conversation making books.  Usborne books

Have yourself a merry little holiday and enjoy your family through conversation

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

'Comforts' about communication

OMG! It has been August since I last visited one of my favorite things to do - writing my thoughts down here .... my how I've missed it.  My mind wanders into thoughts all the time but being able to get it down on paper is important to me; so I can go back later and laugh or cry or sigh at my thoughts.

It's time for a change - that was first.  I needed to, so I did - Change the look of the blog. Second, I'm sitting here realizing I am doing what I promised myself I would do almost a month ago-get back to doing some things I enjoy.  So....I am sitting here indulging in some 'comfort food' and getting some 'comfort' :)

Macaroni and cheese - my favorite 'comfort food' - PBJ is right up there with it.  That's what I have now - both!!  'Comfort food' must also have to do with remembrances and memories.  I have eaten these foods for as long as I can remember.  When I was little and family was short on funds, mac and cheese with PBJ sandwiches was dinner!  But.... it was the dinner with fun! from the time I could fill the pot with water and setting the table - to the time I could make the dinner for myself in college - it was a dinner of fun.   From what was least, we were the best as a family.  Don't get me wrong - as far as I'm concerned my family is the best!  Dinners like these is what made our communication skills so good; what made our conversations outstanding and what made our story-telling so descriptive.  

'Comfort food' brings back those nights our family shared and loved and talked.  When I was young until the time I grew older my family has always been about sharing and talking.  When I started dating the man I married, I walked into another family full of conversations, even with seven children in the family, there was always time to talk - around 'comfort food' around the table.  Then came my son - who learned quickly the love of language and words.  His father tells him to this day 'Words have meaning' - we use them in love. Yes, there are some words in anger; but even more words in love - and conversations and discussions surround us everyday, everywhere.  

Meanwhile the last is not least. My favorite 'comfort food' became a sorrow for a little while.  One of the happy moments with family was in the hospital with my sister.  She was the oldest and took care of us as needed.  Now we were taking care of her. One of my sister's last nights of her cancer battle was after she woke up to find her daughter waiting for her; we had been looking for my niece for over a month.  My sister was famished and happy and wanted PBJ sandwiches for dinner.  We went to the store and bought all the fixins' - sat in the hospital room as a family - discussed, conversed and loved.  It was my sister's last meal with us, but it was a happy one!

Writing is a 'comfort', foods are a 'comfort' and communicating, discussing and talking are 'comforts' of a family.  Language can be so many things, but most of all, it is the door and bridge to each other.  Happy Thanksgiving around the table - and many conversations to come!

A little something to smile and converse about:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thoughts ... of one thing or another

I have been thinking of something the past couple of days.....actually I have been thinking of quite a few things the past of couple of days =) ....but there are two that have been mixing together and kind of standing out in my mind.  Let's share and see if you have any feelings about it as well.

I was having lunch with a friend the other day before I gear up to be back at school and private therapy time.  We were talking about families and gossiping about other friends.  She was catching me up on her grown boys.  They are a fantastic family and of course, she beams when she tells me about them.  When I tell you what they do, you will think; those aren't boys, those are grown men, but to us mothers....they will always be children in our hearts!
As I was saying, she did get a look of concern when she began telling me about her youngest.  He is a military man and out on tour of duty.  I asked her what was wrong and she said; 'Oh Cathy, he had to go get his hearing checked and he is profoundly deaf in one ear and moderate to severely deaf in the other.'  My heart went out to her because we both understand completely what a hearing loss means to any individual, adult or child.  Fortunately, her son and the family have already begun to look into hearing aids and what services are available to him and what can be done after he leaves the military branch.  How is that for a proactive family!  But what bothered me more than anything was when she told me that most people have reacted with 'Oh, that's too bad.....well, at least it's not a leg or another type of disability.'

A disability is a disability!  I know people look for the 'right things' to say to console someone hurting.  If you really can't think of anything just give them a hug and let them know you care.
The bother in this instance for me....hearing loss is still misunderstood or not understood at all.  Hearing loss, like any other disability, limits what is available for what can and cannot be done for adults looking for a job or how they live their lives.  Now I did not say 'closes the door' on can and cannot be done, but it limits in the fact that accommodations and/or modifications will come into play for what can and cannot be done.  And you know that old saying, 'It's nothing personal' - well I agree with Meg Ryan in 'shop around the corner' -"What does that mean anyway, if anything it should be personal!  It's personal to me!"
And I truly dislike the saying - 'I know what you mean' - no you don't unless you've been in that particular position.  My point? Let's remember what it means when the ones we love find out about a disability and remember that any disability is a loss...and there is a process to go through for everyone.

My other thought on my mind?  I guess this hit me about the same time I was trying to understand why someone could not understand what a hearing loss was all about.
This past week were full of meetings for back-to-school.  You know the ones, we all learn something but will never admit it and just want to get back to getting ready for the students.  This year our district will be addressing the issue of bullying; hitting it hard with administrators and teachers and sharing strategies with the students.
While we were going through these meetings, a co-worker leaned toward me and said, 'the hearing impaired children don't really understand bullying or teasing, do they?'

Bullying is bullying!  And once again, I tried to understand where this person was coming from.  Now what I do understand and others may be looking for is clarification of the term 'bully'.  You know when someone is being bullied, but do children know the difference in bullying and teasing and sarcasm and maybe just being bothered because someone wants to know about them.  Hearing children do have a
distinct advantage in learning the subtleties of 'fun teasing and sarcasm' vs. 'being mean'
Social innuendos are things we do need to teach and discuss with our children who have a hearing impairment.  While I have been thinking about this I received my latest 'Volta Voices' - a publication put out by A G Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing - which has an article regarding Bullying and Hearing Loss.
Check it out - this article addressed my thought process and helped with a general overview.  There is so much more to understand.  Bullying extends across many areas - if not all.
So ... what do you think? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Reading with Listening and Language

Last time we talked about developing reading with those listening, language, and talking babies turning into children. 
Now that your children will begin to go to school, it will be just as important that you, parents, continue to grow your child's listening, language, and reading skills.  While children are busy making friends and learning the structure of a classroom, they are falling for their kindergarten teacher.  They watch everything she does and love when she reads to them, because they have learned the love of reading from you.  In language, children will use their auditory memory skills and picture clues to "read" books. They will listen to the stories, love the pictures, memorize the parts they fell in love with and begin to retell you the story when they get home.  Ask them, "What story did you hear at school today?" and watch what comes out of their mouths.  They learn to listen in the classroom, not just to the teacher but to each other, and they learn to speak to each other as proper communication partners.  So, on top of that listening and language continuing to develop - so does reading.  Reading is a part of the environment, your child begins to pick out those words. Store signs and words they've been exposed to over and over again in the classroom.  Parents, you can help by using new vocabulary words, help to "sound out" words if they ask for help, and form words with magnet letters or alphabet programs on the computer.

As your child moves into first grade they're listening will get better and better, following several step directions within the classroom and being able to listen to longer pieces of information . . . and so it goes throughout their growing school years.  Language will continue to do much the same, moving from simple to complex structures and carrying on a conversation with their peers and adults.  Your child will learn the language arts structures in school and understand that reading carries meanings and so much more. They can also communicate and tell stories through creating their own writings.  Once again parents, you can help by encouraging some independent reading, develop words they can read by sight (just by looking at them) and talking to them about what they read.  "What did you read?"  "What did you like the best?" and "How do you think the story will end?" or "What will happen next?"

Now comes the hard part! Whew! Vocabulary building ties in very closely with communication skills.  It is - oh, so important, for your child not to get behind on academic vocabulary.  So much more is expected of them and you parents, cannot keep saying things the same way every time they have difficulty learning those new words.  It is not okay to say things in an easier manner so your child will get it.  What ends up happening is they cling to those simpler items and leave the more difficult vocabulary by the way side.  Have a discussion about new words, think of examples in their lives you can use and say it in a different way - not the "tired way" of "same old, same old".  

For instance:  Pre-teach academic vocabulary.  Ask the teacher for a list of the vocabulary coming up in the lessons.  Children acquiring language need to be able to be familiar with words through conversation at least two weeks before they are asked to understand them in academic context, whether it be the reading series or text books from Science or Social Studies.  Get the list and put them on the refrigerator, target acquiring three to five new words at a time.  Make all the family use the words.  Use hands-on experiences so the words can become a part of your child - rather than short term for the test, or pictures in their head.  Try to choose words they will be interested in, not words you think they should know - use whatever the lesson is that your child talks about - go from there.  Get rid of what your child is familiar with and encourage them to understand and use the vocabulary through your discussions and use of synonyms.  

Then go read a book and share!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Really! Listening, Language and Reading!

I love reading!  I've said that before and if you know me, I love any kind of reading, whether I'm reading on my own or sharing with my clients. 
When I am with a parent and we are working with their child, I always bring up reading, and I am always surprised that there are questions about why reading is so important to the listening and language component.   There are lots of web sites a parent can go to for development of reading - usually they start with emerging literacy.  Yes, that's true; but if you continue to look for reading within those web sites you will find some to include infants.  There is so much more to consider.

When they are babies, you hold them, you coo with them, you sing to them, you comfort them.  Why can't you read to them as well.  The focus for baby and adult is listening. Surprise! Your voice is for baby to hear, and as baby focuses, they will learn to track your face to the book.  Can you imagine baby listening to your voice and listening to rhythm and change of pitch when you go from character to character and setting to setting.  Just read to them!

Next are the toddlers and they are such a delight!  Reading and listening to language while cuddled up with you gives the toddler a little bit extra.  Now that they have begun to listen, they are learning those communication skills of give and take, they are discriminating sounds, and they are identifying those sounds and items you are talking about within the reading.  You have given your toddler the ability to experience more in their world and outside their world.  Begin to choose books that present familiar ideas and simple actions. They will love rhythm and rhyme, your humor put into the story while they are listening and they will love the repetition within the story.  These can be nursery rhymes, lullabies, and simple tales.  The one item you have to remember - attention span is short, so
choose stories that are simple with lots of colorful pictures.

As your child turns into a preschooler, picture books are a staple for them.  If your teaching has gone according to plan, the three-to-five year old has begun to use longer utterances.  They are asking you -
'What happened?' or 'What doing?' and they are beginning to enjoy longer conversations with you.  Even more, they want to listen to your stories!  Now they enjoy reading together everyday and it will become one of the most important activities of your day or evening before bed.  It will help their language to grow as they begin to hear different words and different ways to say things.  It will also set them up for pre-reading.

It is said, the best way to help children become readers is to read aloud to them as often
as possible. The more stories children hear, the more aware they are of how
language sounds, and the more new words they can learn.  According to the
American Academy of Pediatrics, listening to stories read aloud stimulates brain
development and lays down patterns that can become the building blocks for written language.....and there you go, the hierarchy of listening.....or is it language......or is it reading.....or is it all of them! Well,
whatdya' know! 
Let's talk next time, about how we can work with our school-age children with reading, or is it language - hehehe!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reading-the more you read......


'Oh! The Places You'll Go!' is a Dr. Seuss book that I, and many of my friends, have given to children over and over again.  My mother even gave this to my son when he left home for a life ready for the making.  But leaving home, or even getting ready to embark on something new is not the focus of this blog.....

.....After my first summer camp was over and I felt so happy that I saw my dream come true with the help of family and many friends; I was ready to write and create for the blog.  I was ready to tell everyone what we had accomplished at camp, give ideas to parents about listening and language, provide some lessons for speech and reading, and overall just write.  So? What happened?  

I couldn't get one idea going for the blog.  My mind wasn't focused.  It was summer and I wanted to do anything but write.  I was ready to go do my therapy lessons with children and parents before I wanted to sit down and write.  I was ready to put lessons on paper for school before I wanted to sit down and write.  I even wanted to straighten up the house before I wanted to sit down and write. Yikes!!  
I promised myself I would read that stack of books and magazines from the past couple of months as well, and that is just what I did.  I read.  I read and read and then I read some more.  I can't tell you how good it felt to read and enjoy fun reading time.  I got ideas and lessons from others, reading their articles.  I spent a great deal of time just enjoying myself through books.  
And then it hit me, what is the one thing I tell my new clients.  Parents and children, tweens and teenagers, adults and other therapists.  READ!  

Everyone knows how important it is for a child to get started in the reading process.  Listening and enjoying, learning that print means something, and learning that letters are connected to sounds and combinations of sounds make words and so on and so forth.  Now how important is it to those who have difficulty with listening and speech and language?  Double that reading effort, no triple it.

We should read at every opportunity we have - read with someone, read with family, read for learning, read for entertainment, read for the love of it!  Today, in this growing age of more technology, more ipads, more tablets, more Nooks and Kindles - more printing, more digital printing, more accessibility, there is no reason not to teach the love of reading.  Yes we get busy, I just shared that I was playing catch-up on my reading list, but sharing a moment of reading can be done!  
I am a firm believer in technology, but not for the sake of sitting and entertaining oneself with games while mom and dad are busy.  There is a time and place for that.  I am so in favor of technology to share, find the time to be together.  E-books - I love them - once I've shared with the children, they can do it by themselves.  Once I've shared with an adult, they can access whenever they want on what technology they have.  And if perchance, I have a client that loves the feel of books like I do - well, that one is easy.  
The whole point of this particular blog - Read! I love to read.  Make the love of reading a part of your list of 'to-do's' with your family.  You can do so much from reading a book.  Ideas and activities can stem from reading.  Correct speech and language can stem from reading. My favorite part of all ..... Conversations, discussions and yes - going places can stem from reading.  
Share the love of reading before the school year takes over in all it's other forms.  Somewhere in your day - take 10 minutes to read, on your own or with family or friend, but share reading with all its intentions of enjoyment in every emotion you can think of and then.....
Talk about it!