Time to Talk: Summer Language Stimulation

Midsummer Language Skills

The summer months are racing ahead. Many of our children are going to day camps or traveling with family. I know from my work schedule that families are shifting their plans daily, almost hourly in some cases. Spontaneity can be a double-edged sword for children. Too much can make them off balance but too much structure can stress them out. I see some children in my practice who lose ground with inconsistent speech therapy due to their looser schedules. But I also see others who gain skills over the summer, when the rigidity of schedules is relaxed.

I’m pondering today about this. So much seems to be determined by the personality of our children. For some, a loosening of structure takes away pressure, and they can learn and be creative at their own pace. Others depend on a schedule to be okay. As parents and teachers, we need to honor these learning/living styles in order to help kids be successful and happy. Of course, this applies to the style that works for their adults as well! What’s the style in your family? Does it work for all your children? Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Applying the Puppy Blueprint in a Toddler’s World

Puppy and Toddler: Nine Teaching Tips

The Puppy learns through play as it helps sharpen the senses and develop problem solving skills- just like toddlers.

I bought a 4 month old puppy last month. It’s been a lot of years since even my grandchildren have been “puppies” and I’m working to reacquaint myself with the motivations of my new dog, Cricket. Luckily, I’m also working with toddlers lately in my practice. I’m finding that I can use many of the same guidelines when teaching both.

Obviously, children have many more cognitive skills than dogs, but I’ve found that some general guidelines apply to both toddlers and puppies!

1. A puppy and a toddler learn through play. It’s their “job” to use all their senses to develop fine and gross motor skills, social skills, and problem solving skills. As disruptive as that can be for time schedules and efficiency, learning happens in play. Toddlers are experiencing most things for the first time. So allow time for these rich moments of exploration. (Last night, during potty time outside, Cricket discovered fireflies!) Also, all activities should be fun so they will want to do it again. Repetition is how they learn deeply. It’s up to the adults to keep activities safe and fun.

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Time to Talk: Consensus Building Equates Better Planning

Summer Planning with Children

Planning out the days of summer can be a challenge. But success in having these plans come to fruition comes by having buy-in from your stake-holders in the planning process.

It’s that time of year when summer plans must be considered and finalized. No getting around it. But should the responsibility of figuring out future plans rest on one person? From my experience, although easier, I’d advise against that.

This topic takes me back to a client of mine during graduate school. At the time, I went to the University of Arizona, where research was conducted on the viability of group therapy for people who had had strokes. Each person had different limitations that made it hard to communicate with the rest of the group. One man — I’ll call him John — only had a few words to express himself after his stroke. Since I also was responsible for his individual therapy, I decided to make a small book with topic pages and pictures he could point to, so others would know what he was thinking about during group therapy. I worked hard to make sure he knew where the pictures were located and knew how to use the book and we practiced in every session. I made one for our practice and his group sessions, and another identical one for home. At the end of the semester, John’s wife asked me over for supper. As we were eating, I noticed that John was completely unable to contribute to the conversation and I suggested that he get his book. Neither of them had a clue where it was. I realized that I had taken full responsibility for the vocabulary I decided would be helpful, and never asked for what they wanted or needed. So they were not at all invested in using it with each other all those months. It never became part of their lives. It was only my therapy tool, virtually useless without my guidance. Ouch!

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Language Play: Learning Isn’t Accomplished in a Straight Ascending Line

Carry Over Time

So it is finally spring in western Massachusetts. And for kids in school this is a time of field trips, assemblies, and visits to the next grade. The pleasures and fears of the future intensify during this time. Then school is over and they are free to enjoy a break, sleep in, and be outside in the sunshine.

This building of intense feelings may affect our children. It often makes it harder to reach them! The best thing we can do to ease the change is to keep things calm and light and help our children stay in the moment. When people are emotional, they can’t think or access their knowledge. I have often told my high schoolers that the best thing they can do before a test is to relax so their brains will work better. This is true because our emotions can block access to our memories. For younger children, it is up to us to control things since they haven’t yet developed the inner control to do this for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Language Play: Memory, Language and Learning

Language and Memory

We think about memory as we and our relatives age. It seems like it gets harder and harder to remember people’s names or the places we did things or what was said. We know that a lot of this is the normal aging process or too much on our plate at once. Unfortunately, people are much less aware of childhood memory problems. We expect our children to never experience memory gaps because they are young with fresh absorbent brains, but it turns out that many children struggle to remember things…   Read the rest of this entry »

Mothers and Daughters Invited to Participate and Create Speeches for International Women’s Day

A Celebration of Speech

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Women’s Voices Worldwide, Inc. invites you to visit downtown Northampton, MA to witness a celebration of women’s speech from past to present. Through historical re-enactments, contemporary speeches, musical performances, and a celebratory reception, people of all ages and backgrounds will join together to recognize and honor the importance of women’s voices in the world.

Women all ages have powerful voices – and lots to say!  Women’s perspectives on everything from politics to human rights, sustainability to public education are crucial to sound policy making and cultural change.  Historically, women have put up a strong fight in order to make their voices heard – and Women’s Voices Worldwide is celebrating their voices and inviting girls and women to participate.

Women, teens and girls can craft and submit original speeches for “Celebration of Speech,” an event scheduled to take place  in Northampton, MA on March 8th, 2013 – International Women’s Day!  Submissions should be no more than 500-1000 words in length, and should be inspired by the prompts provided by the organization, focusing on the importance and power of women’s voices.

Girls ages 8-13yo are prompted with two questions: Why do girls matter? Why I love my voice.

Teens and women are prompted with three: What women’s voices aren’t being heard? Why is there a need for women’s voices?  What changes are needed for women’s voices to be heard?

Participating in the event can be an incredibly powerful experience for both women and girls alike.  Public speaking requires a lot of confidence and conviction, and is an excellent skill for young girls to learn.  Speaking out about such an important topic is a great opportunity for girls to practice their public speaking skills – the topic is familiar to them, and they can use their own firsthand experience, thoughts, and ideas in order to support their speech.  Participating in the Celebration of Speech can help girls and teens understand feminist ideals and learn about the women’s history by the powerful speeches they have given.

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