We didn’t want to let Better Hearing and Speech Month go by without sharing some of our own insight and experience when working with children with these types of challenges.
The last year has been difficult for a lot of us. As parents, we’ve watched our children sit in front of screens for countless hours, doing their best to sit still, pay attention, and apply the things they’re watching. As teachers we’ve wished we could reach out to those children who are obviously struggling and offer a word of encouragement.
And some of us have gone through hundreds of hours of online speech and/or language therapy. While it’s better than nothing, it’s not as good as having someone in person work with us and our kiddo as they try to learn how to communicate. We’re struggling to make sure our children get the services they need in the best way available to them right now.
The good news is that schools are reopening! Our kids are getting back into the classroom and back into the programs they depend on to help them learn the things that come so naturally for others.
For many, however, it’s still a long road back to the classroom. Many schools are still only at half capacity (or less) and the summer months are coming quickly, sending our kids back home to their screens. What can we do about it?
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recently published an article listing ten ways to help children with language disorders during this pandemic. The article can be found here, and we’ve shared some of their ideas (and some of our own) below for Better Hearing and Speech Month.
- Screen time. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Use what your child watches as an opportunity to ask questions and make watching TV interactive. Also, when it comes to playing on a screen, there are tons of free (or very inexpensive) apps out there to help.
- Reading. Your children don’t have to read alone. Think back to those books that you loved when you were their age and read them together. Reading together, whether out loud or on your own provides lots of opportunities for conversations about things like character, plot, and critical thinking.
- Get creative. Campgrounds may still be closed but your backyard is open. If you don’t have a backyard, sleeping in a blanket fort in the front room can be just as fun (and then you can have fresh popcorn and watch a movie – things the campground doesn’t offer).
- Physical activity. This could be anything from doing a yoga-for-kids online video to going on a nature walk around the neighborhood. Some of us have lapped our neighborhoods so many times in the last 13 months that it doesn’t seem that different than the inside of our homes. Mix it up. Try playing the alphabet game (find something that starts with each letter, in order, as you go around). Then, next time, look for something in each color of the rainbow. And if you can’t find it, make it. Take some sidewalk chalk with you and leave fun drawings behind for your friends.
No matter how hard things get, there’s nothing quite like the look in a child’s eye when they understand something for the first time, or when they’ve accomplished something they’ve worked so hard for. Working hard to help those who need just a little bit of extra, and those who need a lot more, brings out the best in them, and the best in us.