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I am my child’s most important teacher in life. As a reading specialist, I know how crucial early language and literacy skills are for young children. It sets the tone for the rest of their lives. As my children grow up, they still remember the books we read and the songs and games we sing and play together. In today’s post, I am going to give you some valuable advice on ways to help your child’s language skills.
Read together daily
Often parents stop reading to their children once they learn to read on their own. This is a huge mistake. My reading skills are much more advanced than those of my children. By reading more advanced books to them, I am exposing my children to higher grammar, vocabulary, images, and ideas in speech. Be aware when reading to your child that they often may not ask what an unfamiliar word means. When coming across an unfamiliar word you can ask your child to define it and if necessary provide them with the definition, synonym, antonym or physical enactment of the meaning. You can make it fun by having them write the word on an index card and taping it on the front door. When the child walks in and out of the door they have to give you a sentence with that word in it. Fun!
Don’t interrupt or fill in the blanks
Patience is really important for helping your child’s language skills. Give your child time to put their thoughts into words and opportunities to practice. If simply waiting doesn’t do the trick for a child with word retrieval problems, then prompt them with a ridiculous alternative. For example, if your child says, “I’m looking for the, uh… um…er…,” you can ask “rhinoceros… leprechaun?” Usually after a few giggles your child should be relaxed enough to find the right word.
Spend time each day having your child describe the details of their day or particular topics of interest or ideas. The dinner table tends to be a natural conversation place for families to talk and catch up on daily events. Also, before turning out the lights in bed is another great time to let your child fill you in on the day’s events as well as create conversation and bonding time in a relaxed environment. If your child speaks very little or has nothing to say, you can provoke them by taking a stance with which you know they’ll disagree. For instance, if your child loves video games, say, “some people think playing video games with children is a bad idea, because this might not encourage creativity. What do you say?”
Make sure your child’s skills are constantly challenged and force to grow
Home is a place where children feel free to express themselves without judgement. They feel that they can make mistakes, ask questions and discuss difficult topics with their family members that they would otherwise be afraid to explore. So here is where you can really build and challenge your child’s vocabulary and language skills. Introduce new words and offer its definition or use it in context that is easily defined. For example, “I think I will drive you in the vehicle this morning instead of making you walk to school.”
Avoid electronic devices, television, etc. whenever possible to encourage language skills
Electronics do not interact with or respond to your child the way you will. Turn off the electronics and talk with your child face to face. Interactive – back and forth, face-to-face exchanges with your child in a quiet background will encourage language skills. Don’t allow phones at the dinner table. Put them down and have a family discussion. Turn off all distractions and let your child focus on you. Children that are receiving more noise stimulation than language stimulation will fail to develop the language skills they need to succeed in school or to communicate effectively with their parents, teacher, and friends, so keep the background quiet.
Speak in complete sentences and use words with precise meanings
Instead of letting your child hear you say “ where is that thingy,” or where is that whatchamacallit,” try to always speak with precision and accuracy. Model the richness of language for your child by adding multiple word meanings and using different words to express the same thought. I’m sure you have witnessed your child mimicking you many times, usually when it’s not a good time.
Practice Phonemic Awareness Activities
Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate the individual speech sounds into spoken words. For example the word cat has three sounds – /c/, /ă/ and /t/. The word heat also has three sound /h/, /ē/, /t/ because the letters ea make one sound. Words can be divided into several other units such as syllables and rhymes. The smallest unit of sound in our language is a phoneme and there are forty four of them!
Phonemes do not correspond one-to-one with letters because some sounds are represented with two letters, like sh, ch, th and ng. The awareness of the separate sounds in a word is what we call phonemic awareness. It is an auditory skill that underlies the ability to use an alphabet to read and write. A child who can recognize that the word cat has three speech sounds, the word eye has one, and the word eat has two, possesses basic phonemic awareness.
If a child can change the /m/ sound at the beginning of the word mat to /r/ and know that the word is now rat, they have demonstrated an even larger degree of phonemic awareness. This child can compare the sounds in words, substitute a new sound for an old one, and blend the sounds to make a new word. Here are some samples of phonemic awareness activities:
Identify rhymes – “tell me all of the words you know that rhyme with the word “heel.”
Listening for sounds – “close your eyes as I read some words to you. When you hear the “ū” sound, raise your hand.”
Manipulating sounds in words by adding, deleting or substituting – “in the word LAND, change the L to H.” (hand)
It has been well known by researchers for the last 20 years that phonemic awareness and letter knowledge are the two best predictors of how well a child will learn to read during his or her first few years of school. The National Reading Panel’s report confirms that instruction in phonemic awareness helps children learn early reading skills.
You the parent, play the most critical role in building your child’s language skills. Strong language skills lead to strong readers and strong writers. So, read books together, sing songs together, talk and discuss things together, learn new words together and just spend time together.
Thank you so much for reading my post today!
Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com
Photo credit: Pexels
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Single moms always have a lot on their plates to keep up with so finding the energy to exercise, and ensure that their kids exercise as well, can be a challenge. Many families fall into a rut during the winter months, but once spring hits it’s time to get outside and embrace the benefits that being active provides. There are plenty of basic ideas that single moms and kids can do together to be active, but there are lots of creative options that can generate some fun as well.
Outdoor exercise benefits your mental wellness as well as your physical fitness
Embracing the nice weather in the springtime provides the perfect launching pad for getting outside and getting active as a way to improve your wellness. As Women Fitness points out, exercise can help not only with physical fitness, but it has a major impact on mental wellness as well.
For those single moms who face issues with depression, outdoor exercise helps to build positive behaviors, provides increased energy and mental well-being, and helps moms to feel less stressed. Getting outside for exercise can also have a significant impact on issues such as chronic pain and addiction recovery as well.
Get creative about getting outdoors with the kids
What kinds of activities work well for single moms to get out and do with their kids? There are the basics like bike riding, walking, and swimming, and as Parents details, teaming up with the kids for outdoor work like yard work, and gardening can turn into a fun and active family project as well. Children may enjoy scouting the local farmers market for some fresh treats, getting in some exercise as the family checks out all of the vendors, then hitting the park for a picnic and family playtime.
Steady Strength suggests learning new activities as a family and it can be fun and motivating to connect with other families for activities and outings as well. Whether you join up with friends to do an outdoor activity together or take it a step further and make it a bit of a competition, the idea of the more the merrier definitely applies here. You can come up with relay races, obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, or put together friendly games of flag-football, soccer, or even old-school kickball.
Keeping it simple works well too
Sometimes as a single mom it feels as if there is never enough time to get everything as it is, so getting creative about getting outside with the kids can feel like an overwhelming addition to the to-do list. However, once you get out and get going, the payoff will definitely feel worth it. Wired points out that even doing something as simple as hide and seek, kick the can, hopscotch, basketball, jump roping or hula hooping can get everybody some great exercise and there is no doubt that your mood and energy levels will be elevated as well.
For some single moms, there may be an opportunity to combine outdoor springtime exercise with a way to make a bit of extra cash. Maybe offer to do some dog-walking for other busy families, check into getting a paper route, or put together a babysitting opportunity where you are getting the kids out for some fun and then you get some fresh air and exercise, and the cash in your pocket is just a bonus.
Sometimes as a single mom it feels great to send the kids outside to play on their own, but joining them sparks numerous benefits. Not only do you get some great bonding time with your children by joining them during the springtime weather for some outdoor fun, but you benefit both physically and mentally after putting in the effort. Take a walk around the block, throw together a friendly competition with another family, or play some hopscotch and take some time to invest in yourself and reap the benefits that you’ll experience both mentally and physically.
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Parents, Halloween is on its way. That means costumes, costume parties, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and a whole lot more will become part of your to-do list. You probably fondly remember all the fun Halloween activities you enjoyed as a kid, and want your kids to experience those same feelings. With all of the fun and festivities, however, Halloween can be a spooky day filled with dangerous drivers, potentially hazardous treats and potential harmful situations for kids.
The last thing you want to see on Halloween is your child, or any child, fall victim to an occurrence that can easily be averted. A bit of research can truly be the difference between spending the end of this festive night happily with your kids or in unplanned turmoil.
Halloween falls during the waning period of October, which ranks as the second most dangerous month for fatal car accidents. Halloween contributes to that number in many ways, but the biggest reasons are the potential for DWI incidents and noticeably high traffic in neighborhoods.
To make sure your child is easily seen and safe, always consider traffic when deciding on your child’s costume. Here are a few things to consider when planning what your child will wear:
- Opt for face paint rather than masks, which tend to obscure vision and make breathing difficult.
- Use reflective tape on bags and have your child carry glow sticks or a flashlight.
- Make sure they wear a well-fitting costume that doesn’t drag behind.
- Make sure they wear sturdy shoes that will be comfortable for walking.
Potentially dangerous candy given to kids is the stuff of genuine nightmare for all parents. No one wants to believe candy givers bear ill will, but it’s not always malice that can lead to bad treats. Food allergies, choking hazards and bacteria are some things that you or treaters might not account for on this night. In order to ward off any potential issues, try the following:
- Share a family meal before going out so your child doesn’t eat along the way.
- Conduct a full check of candy when you get home.
- Beware of any treats that aren’t commercially wrapped or look like they’ve been tampered with.
Not only should you prepare for your child’s safety, you should also keep in mind the many kids who will likely approach your door. Always consider that most trick-or-treaters are out in the dark and aren’t familiar with your yard or walkways.
Regardless of the them on your porch or doorway, it’s important to make sure it’s properly lighted (even if the lighting is eerie). Children need to be able to see steps, garden beds, chairs, and the like. Account for these ideas when getting ready for trick-or-treaters:
- Make sure the footing is secure and stairs are visible.
- Any railings should be reliable and unmoving for stairs or pathways.
- Try parking household vehicles in the driveway or garage.
Halloween and pumpkin carving always go hand in hand. Pumpkin carving is both a creative way to spend time with others and a way to add home artful pieces to your home for this holiday. Still, when it comes to kids, the use of knives and other sharp tools aren’t always the best option.
Even without the use of knives and scraping tools, pumpkin decorating can be just as creative and artful. And what is a pumpkin but just an empty canvas for an inventive mind? Paint, glitter, lace, and even junk can all be used to turn an ordinary gourd into a centerpiece for your family and visitors to admire.
Keep Halloween fun and safe by paying close attention to your kid’s costume, checking their candy, making sure your doorstep and yard is well-lit, and that you keep sharp objects away from the littlest ones when pumpkin carving. All of these extra steps add up to peace of mind for you, and an especially festive night for your child.
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