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Risky Movement, Sensory Input, and Language … What’s the Connection?

I was recently sitting with a friend and reminiscing about our outdoor adventures in childhood.  She shared a story about summers at the lake where she and her cousins (age 5 to 12) would load up the canoes with knives, saws and wood (and bandaids!) and paddle across the lake as a group. There, unsupervised, they spent hours building forts in the bush.   We couldn’t help but find ourselves saying; remember when?  Remember when we would spend hours outside by ourselves; remember when our parents trusted us to play unsupervised… Why don’t we let our kids do that??? Are our children missing out with the lack of unsupervised play? What are the implications for our children’s overall development now that we don’t let them explore unsupervised?   Are there links between this reduction in movement and risky play to cognition and language?

As speech language pathologists, we hold extra knowledge and expertise in language and brain based language learning. However, I feel it’s my job to know more about how all of the developing systems interact and how we can use other areas of development to improve speech and language (such as how movement can increase vocalizations).  I am also fascinated by the growing body of research on movement and children, including the reduction in movement, free play and risky behaviour of children and how this links to changes in child development. Academics, researchers and policy makers are promoting the benefits of risky play.  Why is this and what does it mean for language development?

Recent studies  have begun to draw strong links between children’s movement, development of gross motor skills, and its opportunities to develop and change language (Journal of Child Language. Vol. 37. Issue 2, March 2010. Author: Jana Iverson).  This really makes me ask, that if children are moving less, is it impacting language development?  When it comes to older children there is a broad body of research telling us that children are moving less than they ever have, engaging in less unstructured free play, and engaging in less risky play.  It is only natural we want to protect our children and keep them safe from harm, but limiting our children’s exploration just to keep them safe may have more of an impact then we know.  Your brain is wired to seek out the movement it needs to function.  Children begin taking risks in movement (climbing trees or jumping off of couches etc..) when they begin to develop the muscle strength and coordination to do it.  Young children jump on and off of things when they are seeking that movement through space.  This is sending information to their brain to help them develop their vestibular (movement in space) system, but guess what else it activates; your auditory nerve!!!  The same nerve that sends information to your brain about your movements also sends information to your brain about what we hear.  I can’t help but draw a line between our children who are moving less, therefore attending to what they hear less,  and the implications this would have for their speech and language development.  If children move less, it would seem that they will focus and attend to things they hear less.  Would this not have a direct implication to their language development?

Sensory processing difficulties occur when your brain has trouble filtering, organizing and interpreting information taken in by the senses. This can cause extreme reactions to sensations like bright light, noises, smells, tastes and textures.  There really has been an explosion in past years in the understanding and recognition of “sensory” processing difficulties in children.  No one really knows why, but some experts guess this is because there are so many more children who are developing different sensory motor systems than before.  The theory is that the more we restrict children’s movement the less they know how to deal with the sensory input.  I have spent a significant time in schools and have been doing this job long enough to hear the never ending chorus of “students are different now”: they are less attentive, have poorer movement and so many more have speech and language delays.  While the reasons are obviously complex, I feel more and more research is pointing to all of these links between changes in movement and exploration must be felt along the line somewhere.  Perhaps we are feeling it in children’s ability to listen, respond and develop language appropriately

Brian Merzenich a renowned expert in brain plasticity says the following:  “What infants are specifically exposed to and learn about matters. HOW they are exposed to, and learn about the things of the world matters. EVERYTHING that you know, and do, is a product of brain plasticity. In an infant, IT ALL COUNTS.”  In other words, differences in how children experience the world CHANGES kids. Is it for the better or worse, no one quite knows.  I think it’s up to you as a parent to decide.

 So, spend a little time thinking about letting go and allowing your children to engage in some of that risky play that makes us all hold our breath as parents.  Perhaps you won’t just be impacting their physical fitness, strength and coordination, but you may be improving their listening skills, focus, attention and problem solving as well!  Since we are smack dab in the middle of winter and approaching February break, here are some ideas for winter fun, movement and exploration that will give your kids a chance to problem solve, move and get all areas of the brain firing. 

Sledding:  Fast movement through space helps with the vestibular (balance) system, and fires the auditory nerve.  You get lots of information through your joints (proprioception; the awareness of the position of your body) as you crash off of the sled, or have to drag the sled back up the hill.  Proprioception is calming and gives your brain information about where your body is. 

Building a snowman:  Figuring out how to create the snowballs and organizing them by size are amazing problem solving opportunities.  You get great pushing and pulling through your joints as you push the snowballs and pile them up.  Climb a tree and find the stick for the arms and jump down into the snow.  This will activate your vestibular (balance system) and the crash will give you lots of proprioception.  Not to mention the problem solving required figuring out how to get the branches.

Build an outdoor snow slide or luge:  Again problem solve how the build and how to create the best track.  The shoveling will give you lots of physical exercise and proprioception.  If you build a really fast one you will get your auditory nerve and vestibular system firing as you move quickly along the track.

Find a snow mountain to slide and roll down, or create one:  The climbing is great core strength which helps support your speech muscles!  All that heavy work is great proprioception which helps you calm and know where your body is in space.  The sliding or rolling will activate your auditory nerve and think of the great problem solving if you have to create your own mountain!

 

 

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Early Childhood Intervention Program

Image result for ECIP regina logo Hi there!!! My name is Jennie Bryant and I am the Executive Director for the Early Childhood Intervention Program, Regina Region Inc. (ECIP).  I was excited when I was asked to write a post for the Regina Speech Centre! Any chance to share information that may be of help to families in the community is a great opportunity.  ECIP’s vision is that “All families have the capacity to meet the developmental needs of their child in the community of their choice.” When a parent realizes that their child may have a delay in their development, or receives a diagnosis this can be a very confusing time. The path they expected their child would take or perhaps in comparison to the path their other children took, may suddenly look different. They may be overwhelmed with questions and concerns and uncertain about where to go for support.

This is where ECIP can help! ECIP is a voluntary program that works with children from birth to six who may be experiencing delays in their development.  We do this through home visits and are meant to be a support for the family. Once it is determined that a child meets criteria for our program, the family is assigned an Early Childhood Interventionist (ECI). The ECI then comes to the home regularly (usually for about an hour every two weeks) to address any concerns that the family may have. The ECI usually conducts a screening or assessment of the child’s overall development. From assessment results combined with the concerns of the family, specific goals are identified and strength-based approaches are used to address them. The benefit of working with a family in their home is that the programming exists within everyday routines. In addition, the child and the parent are in the comfort of their own home which allows us to see an accurate picture of the child and how they are in their every day lives. It also allows families to feel comfortable to speak openly and honestly. This can lead to a strong and trusting relationship that can lead to lasting benefits for the whole family. While ECIP mostly supports the family in the home, we also extend the support to childcare settings.  In addition, the ECI would also be able to support the family in navigating the health and education systems, and other programs and services in their community.  We find it very beneficial to work closely with other services that may already be involved, such as Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Psychology, etc. By consulting with other therapists or service providers we are able to incorporate their expertise into our home programming so we are all striving towards the same goals. The final phases of ECIP are to transition children successfully into school. We can work closely teachers by sharing our goals and strategies that have been successful for the child and family.

Since a child learns primarily through play, we implement a play-based therapy. Another benefit of ECIP is that families are able to access our Toy Lending Library. There are many different resources that an ECI will bring out to the home that they will leave with families to utilize in between home visits.

We have a very educated and wonderful staff at ECIP that come from a variety of backgrounds and have a lot of experience. They are very well-trained in child development and are continually taking training opportunities that are relevant to the families that they work with. Most importantly, ECIP staff have had the opportunity to meet many wonderfully diverse families, and are particularly skilled at empowering them through the wonderful trusting relationships that are created with families.

Early intervention is the key to many children’s success because those early years are a critical period for development. Children’s brains are being hard-wired as to how they will engage with other people and their environments and their ability to learn. The more experiences we can engage them in, especially in the areas that they are experiencing the most challenges the more the brain has practice in making connections that can lead to improvements.

As I write this I realize that ECIP offers many different things. Because each child and family is unique, so too are ECIP services. We meet families where they are at and offer support based on child needs, family needs, and their community connections. If you are interested in learning more about ECIP I encourage you to check out our website: www.ecipregina.ca, or to call our office at (306) 347-5020. Anyone is able to make a referral including parents themselves.

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Articulation Homework … How to Keep Motivated

 Speech Homework…

Practicing speech at home can be daunting.  Let’s face it, your child probably feels like he or she has enough homework, and to have additional homework is never fun.  Especially when it is extra work that they have to do, that their peers don’t!  We have made a list of 5 ways to practice speech sounds in the home.  

1.       While you are driving

When you are driving, it is a perfect time to get some drill practice in for you son’s or daughter’s speech sounds.  You can play “I spy…” and describe or label items that have their targeted speech sound; or you could try playing a game of categories! This is an easy one to play in the car, while you are making supper, or while you are out walking! To play categories have your child select a category (i.e.; food) and then your son or daughter has to name as many items targeting their speech sounds for that category.  For example, if their speech sound is /k/, your son or daughter could say, “cookie, carrot, ketchup, etc”.

2.       At Meal time

Meal time is typically when you all sit down as a family and discuss your day, talk about upcoming events etc.  It is a natural time for families to reconnect and be present.  This is a perfect time to practice speech sounds.  Your son or daughter can practice a list of words as you pass around the food.  If you have siblings that have speech work they can practice their speech homework together in that moment!  Practicing for a short period of time throughout the day, across multiple settings, is more beneficial for your son or daughter than sitting down and “drilling” for half an hour each day.  It’s also more natural!

3.       Reading time

While you are reading books out loud with your son or daughter when you come across a word with their target sound, draw attention to it.  Say, “Hey! There’s our speech sound we’re suppose to practice!’  Then take a moment to say the word a couple times with clear speech before you continue on with your story.  This is natural way to illustrate to your child how their speech sounds fit in their every day routines, and it naturally builds in awareness!

4.       Family Game Night

We often will use board games in the therapy room to keep our clients and students motivated and engaged… You can do this in the home as well! Have a family board game night, and before your son or daughter roll the dice, get them to say a word once or twice.  Build the practice into a fun routine for them.

5.       Mad Libs, reading out loud, and general carry over

Getting your son or daughter to carry over their speech sounds into conversation is always the hardest. It’s about building awareness and ownership for your son or daughter.  Try using Mad libs with your son or daughter and have them fill in the blanks using words that contain their target word.  Then have them read their mad lib out loud while using their clear speech sounds. 

Or even have a conversation with your son or daughter but tell them, “for the next 5 minutes we are going to use our good speech sounds”, and hold them accountable for each mistake in those next 5 minutes. 

 

Be creative in how you target speech practice in the home and be mindful of keeping their practice motivating, engaging and fun for them.  Also remember it is ok to take a break! If you feel like your son or daughter is getting frustrated or discouraged with their speech sounds, take a step back and admit to your son or daughter, “Hey this is hard… why don’t we take a break for today and I will read the rest of your speech words out loud to you, ok?

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Music Therapy… What is that?

 

“I know what I was made to do!”  I said to my father excitedly, “I want to be a music therapist!”  “Great!” replied my father, followed by “What is that?”  I gave him a feeble answer at the time and then with full support, my parents saw me off to Ontario to fulfill this newfound dream.  That was 20 years ago and I am still answering the question “What is that?” when I mention that I am a music therapist to new people that I meet.

The Canadian Association of Music Therapists (CAMT) defines music therapy as “the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication, and personal development.”  The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” 

I, however, answer the question: “What is music therapy?” in a variety of ways.  It is the profession I am so fortunate to work in, where I use the creative medium of music to help various individuals become the best they can be!  Music therapy is meeting the person where they are at and then helping them grow, develop and learn. It is establishing a therapeutic relationship with others where change and growth can occur through the intentional use of music and music therapy approaches and interventions.  Completing assessments, making goals, planning programming and implementing services are part of all client interactions.

Music therapy is listening in both the chaos and the silence and giving a creative outlet and voice to those who feel they are never heard.  It is encouraging the child with cerebral palsy to reach out to hit the drum as a form of reaching mobility goals and decreasing muscle tension.   It is dancing with the senior who is wandering the hall and through song and music, encouraging them to sit and participate in a communal music experience where they find connection, relaxation and feel alive.  It is communicating in a shared musical dialogue with a child with autism and giving them opportunities to express and relate in their own way.  Music therapy is providing moments of connection between an adult with dementia and their loved ones, care givers and peers as they share in a positive social experience.  It is providing music to soothe, comfort, and help with pain relief physically, emotionally and spiritually with families who have a loved one in palliative care.

Music therapy is giving the gift of confidence and increased self-esteem while individuals are provided opportunities to be successful in their own unique ways.  It is using music intentionally to work on certain speech sounds and goals with children, youth and adults with speech difficulties.  It is working with an individual who has been through trauma and through music exploration can work on attachment and self-regulation.

Music therapy is a profession that can work with anyone regardless of age and ability.  It is a modality in which brain based change and growth occurs, as music activates both hemispheres of the brain.   Music releases the “feel good” hormone dopamine, it can cause blood pressure to lower, and has been found to decrease stress hormones.  I am sure all of us can list ways that music has enhanced our lives, altered our moods, brought back memories and motivated us.

Music therapy is many things to many people but what may not be known is that to be a music therapist one has to attain at least an undergraduate degree in music therapy, and could attain a Masters or Doctorate degree as well which all include supervised clinical work.  We also work to become certified with our national association, the Canadian Association for Music Therapists, and to maintain this certification we must engage in continuing education opportunities on a yearly basis.

To me, music therapy is many different things some which can be measured and researched and others that can only be seen and felt in the heart!

Singing inside and out,

Melanie McDonald, BMT, MTA

For further information on music therapy, visit www.musictherapy.ca.  To see who benefits from hiring a music therapist go to http://www.jbmusictherapy.com/when-would-i-ever-hire-a-music-therapist/

 

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Elf On The Shelf; 6 Ways to Use Elf on the Shelf for Speech and Langauge in the Home

Practicing language or even speech sounds in the home shouldn’t be an added chore.  In fact, the more natural the environment you practice your language and speech sounds in the better chance of your son or daughter carrying over their new skills in everyday situations! 


So, we have compiled 6 ideas on how to use your “Elf on a Shelf” this Christmas season to help with your speech and language goals.

1.  Practice answering “wh” questions

When your child finds his or her elf then next day, practice answering various “wh” questions such as where, who, what, etc.  Your elf lets your child answer questions like; “Who is he playing with?”, “What is she doing?”, or “Where is he hiding today?”  The questions are endless.  This offers a natural and functional opportunity for you to ask multiple wh-questions in an exciting setting, making it feel less like you are testing your child with the endless questions!  Don’t forget to use some wait time to allow your child to answer and model appropriate answers for them if they are unable to respond after the wait time.

2. Teach Prepositions!

When you hide your elf, consider hiding him in unique positions or even different containers! This allows you to teach your child about prepositions in a meaningful way.  You could hide your elf in the Christmas tree, or behind a chair, or on top of a Lego tower! You could even hide him inside a container, or trap him under a jar.  The options are endless.

3. Develop Recall Skills

Use the elf on the shelf to further develop your child’s ability to recall past events and share them with other family members.  When your child calls his grandma, or when dad gets home from work, discuss what the elf did in detail!  This lets your child stretch his or her memory and gives them a chance to practice past tenses (i.e.; the elf hid in the Christmas tree).

4. Build Prediction and Reasoning Skills

Ask your child questions that get him or her thinking.   Why do they think the elf got tied up or stuck in that crazy situation.  Get them to predict about the future and try to guess what you think Elf will get into or be up to the next morning.  The options are endless and setting the elf up in more detailed scenes allows for you to model and coach your child to use their story telling skills involving predictions and problem solving!

5. Help Teach Sequencing Skills

Have your elf set out a cook book with ingredients, or craft supplies for a Christmas craft, or even a mini Lego set to build that day and talk about the steps, “first we ____ then we ___”  Ask questions such as “What do we do next?”, or “How did we make these cookies?” Focus on vocabulary such as first, second, then, and even the word and! This helps your son or daughter sequence their stories.

6. Practice Your Child’s Speech Sounds

Have your elf pick out books that have your child’s speech sounds in it.  For example, maybe your child needs help with his or her s-blends, set out I Spy books with the elf and practice saying “I ssspy…” Or maybe your elf sets out a book with Cookie Monster so your son or daughter can target their /k/ sound.  The elf could be hiding in a bag of /s/ objects or give them instructions to find some things in the house that start with /k/.  The options are endless.

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What to look for when hiring a private speech language pathologist.

So you need to hire a private speech language pathologist. You have accessed public services and perhaps you are on a waiting list, or want to supplement the services you are receiving. This has led you down the path of hunting for private speech language pathologist (SLP). Finding the right professional that will help you, your child, or your family member can be a daunting task. It can be easy to just pick the first person that you find, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the right professional for you. Taking the time to find the right fit can be a worthwhile endeavour. So how to begin?

At the very least you can check educational and professional credentials. It’s highly unlikely that a person will be calling themselves a speech language pathologist if they are not, as it is a protected title. An SLP must possess a Master’s Degree from a reputable academic institution . They must also hold appropriate licensure from the province in which they maintain their practice. Additionally, many SLP’s will also hold either American or Canadian certification. If you are unsure about a professional you can check with a provincial licensing body to ensure that they are a member in good standing (here in Saskatchewan check with saslpa.ca).

Now let’s get to the trickier areas to evaluate:

Consider Experience
This is a difficult area to quantify. Looking for the therapist with many years experience may not be all that useful. It can’t be just any experience; it has to be the right experience! After all, do you really want a therapist with 20 years of experience in treating school age children’s articulation deficits when your toddler needs help with early language development (or vice versa)? Looking for a clinician’s direct experience with clients that have your child or family member’s communication difficulties will be invaluable. It is also a good idea to inquire regarding the areas of specialization of the therapist in order to find out whether he/she has successfully treated children with similar problems to your child’s. A good therapist will be honest about their direct experience with clients that have similar difficulties to yours.

Ask for recommendations and references.
One of my favourite speakers always says “competence speaks for itself”. We have all been there as a consumer, where we are unsure of the services being provided by the professional we are paying for. You probably wouldn’t hire a contractor to renovate your house randomly out of the phonebook or from a website, so don’t be shy and ask for references. Therapists should be more than happy to provide you with names of both parents and other professionals who will recommend their services.

Does your child or family member respond to and enjoy your therapist.
This sounds almost silly or simplistic, but communication development is about positive and fun interactions that are lead by the client, no matter the age. If we are talking about little children: is your therapist down on the floor, does your child warm up to them over a reasonable amount of time, do they know when to expect more of your child and when to back off? All clients can have good sessions and bad sessions, but overall your child or family member should develop a positive rapport quickly and easily with your therapist that continues over sessions. This rapport or therapeutic relationship can go a long way to helping develop confidence and communication.

Does your therapist include you?
If you are like most families your child will not be at speech therapy daily, what you are able to do at home really counts. Does your therapist listen to your concerns, work on things that matter to you, include you in the therapy and provide reasonable, doable suggestions? This piece really does matter. Is your therapist able to describe what they are doing, and why and include you in the planning and implementation of goals? Including your opinions and experiences as a parent is critical in ensuring the success of the intervention!

Does your therapist consider all aspects of your family life?
Let’s be honest, very seldom do you get one on one quiet time with your child in a secluded room. The reality is often you are working on speech in the car, in the tub, with siblings and other distractors. Does your therapist recognize this and provide strategies to work with all these factors? Also are they mindful of your budgetary needs? Work, and extra-curricular schedules? Is your therapist able to work with you in establishing doable programs with all the extras life throws at you? A therapist that is responsive to all the factors in your life is more likely to build a program you can follow at home!

Consider knowledge and professional development.
In order to maintain their licensure and certification all therapists are required to take professional education courses in order to stay up to date with all the relevant research and new treatments developed in our field. Speech language pathology is a well researched field; new methods are continually being developed and information is constantly changing. When you are selecting your therapist it is important to find out just how up to date are they on the current research, treatment methods and methodologies pertaining to your child or family members speech and language deficits. Your therapist should be forthcoming and appreciate inquiries regarding their background and relevant training. If something doesn’t make sense ask follow up questions.

Lastly: Don’t be intimidated!
This should be a partnership. You should understand and agree with you therapist’s methods and approaches and feel comfortable participating in and adding to your child or family member’s treatment. Ask questions, encourage explanations and create a dialogue. We don’t believe that we have a magic wand, but we do have expertise and knowledge that we can provide to you as a parent or caregiver that can support, guide, and help you teach your child.

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Just in time for Christmas: Some toy advice…

Hello to all the friends and families of Regina Speech Centre.

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Well, Christmas is upon us and approaching fast. It happens every year, you blink after Halloween and the stores are filled with Christmas decorations, treats and toys… and more and more toys. The TV screen is filled with advertisements, every flier is stuffed full of pictures and our children are bombarded with images of the latest and greatest ideas for their wish list. As a parent I struggle each year to balance what my children want with something I think is worth spending the money on, because the price tag seems to grow each year. With that in mind I thought I’d write down a few ideas to help guide you this Christmas season and hopefully give you something to think about before you pull out the wallet. As speech language pathologists we spend our careers testing toys. Every hour of every day is spent in play with the parents and children we work with, and I think it gives us a unique perspective on toys and their longevity and functionality. Combine that with the research and I am confident that we are able to give you a few toy buying tips this season.
So here it goes… 5 things you should look for in a toy:
5. Will it last?
No, I don’t mean can you throw it down the stairs and it doesn’t break (although that is a helpful feature in many toys). I mean, are your children able to use the toy over a few years, and longer hopefully. Is it a toy that has more than one use and can grow with your child? These are the toys that I still have in my house. If the toy only does one thing: push the button and it sings or lights up, chances are your child will outgrow the toy or get bored quickly. Look at the toy and think: what will my child be able to do with this toy this year or next. Let me give you an example:
A set of large nesting blocks: At age one your child can pull them apart, try and stack them fill them and dump them. At 2 they will be able to fit them back together by size, line them up, or label the pictures on them. At 3 they can use them in pretend play as a train, or cups for their dolls, figure out how to nest them and build giant towers. At 4 you can use them for more pretend play, create games with them, or build them up and high and knock them down.
4. No batteries
Seriously, NO BATTERIES! I have over the years found some fun toys that came with batteries, but I just remove them so the toys no longer make noise. There are some few and far between battery toys that are fun (for example: remote controlled vehicles or the occasional board game) but for the most part a battery based toy tends to be another one of those one shot wonder toys. It is designed to do one thing light up or make noise or move. The limitation in these skills sadly reflects the limited play skills developmental skills and language skills your child can gain from playing with such toys.

Also, from experience let me tell you these toys are fun for a short period but they will not stand the test of time.
To add on top of this is the broad base of growing research around the impact of noisy toys on children’s hearing. Did you know that there are no industry standards for what is a safe noise level for a child who is in close range to a noisy toy for a prolonged period? These toys have the capability of causing hearing damage. Also there is another broad base of research rolling out that demonstrates noisy toys are detrimental to caregiver child interactions. They impact the quality of interactions. The first few years of life are the basis for your child’s language development, which supports their early literacy development in school. If you are going to spend a big chunk of change on a toy let’s make sure it isn’t something that research actually shows is detrimental to development.
3. Fosters resourcefulness and problem solving
We all want our children to become independent in all areas of their life, including thinking. The ability to learn how to solve problems actually begins in play when children are challenged to think using the world around them. Look for the toys that require assembly, manipulation of materials, or solving skills. These are toys such as: play sets, building bricks, wooden blocks, train tracks, craft supplies, puzzles, interactive books, or board games to play as a family! Toys that allow your child to problem solve how to assemble or manipulate items, such as flaps in flap books for your little one, are equally as important as toys that allow for open ended play. These toys will develop their reasoning skills, problem solving skills, and engage them in sorting out their environments. The other beautiful piece to toys such as this is they naturally allow you as a parent to join in. They naturally set up opportunities for you to work alongside your child. Allowing your child independence to solve problems in their own way in play with flow over into their life and give them the ability to solve problems when they arrive on the playground or in school.

2. Promotes pretend play
Have you seen all the news buzz lately about the importance of unstructured play time for children? In this increasingly busy world the time to play with no agenda seems to be the last priority and children have less time for pretend play. Why is this problematic? The idea of pretend play is not as simple as it may seem. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas. Did you know pretend play demonstrates a child’s knowledge of the world and essentially shows off their thinking skills? Imagination builds cognitive skills in many areas that are critical for later school and work success including: language, reasoning, social interaction and problem solving. So looking for toys that allow children the ability to pretend is a real boon to their brain growth. Anything from dolls, to kitchen sets, costumes and farm sets allow children to act out the world around them. This type of play is so open ended, really anything goes. You can see how children get a chance to practice all of their skills when engaging in symbolic play. Find something you think is fun too, so you can get in on the play and model and expand their schemes for them!

1.  Promotes interaction

This one comes from the speechy side of me. Any toy that encourages face to face play time with an adult or other children is a win, win. Too many times we look for a toy that will occupy our child without us, and while I see the benefit of this as a parent myself (we all need some time to get things done in life), the time we spend talking and interacting with our children is critical. Research shows that children who have had large amounts of conversation directed towards them throughout their preschool years enter school with a much higher vocabulary and go on to be much stronger readers. Join in and play with your child! Ask yourself, would I enjoy playing this with my child? If the answer is yes, then you will probably get more value out of the toy if it encourages you to play with them!

Well, that really is all the advice I can muster this Christmas season. I hope this gives you a few ideas to guide you when you are out fighting the crowds at the mall. If you want some face to face advice please check out our Toy Talk sessions at the Early Years Family Centres over the next two weeks. You can see the full schedule by visiting their website at: http://www.reginakids.ca/regina-childrens-initiative/early-years-family-centres and clicking on the December newsletter and calendar link.
Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season from the Regina Speech Centre!

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COMING SOON!

 

Nichole and I have been feeling so blessed and excited to start this new venture here in Regina. Our goal is to provide quality, family centred communication intervention in the Regina area, and we feel like we have made an excellent start. With that in mind, Regina Speech Centre is thrilled to announce that it’s official; we have our own space! We have been enjoying our time at Well Point Health, our temporary location, but are happy to let our clients know that we will begin renovations on our very own clinic in January. We are so excited to have our vision fulfilled and be able to offer our families expanded and improved services. We can’t wait to see what this new adventure will bring, including: more therapists, more group services and a guaranteed family friendly space. We will be sure to keep you updated with the progress of the renovations and hope to have the doors open for business in March of 2017.

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Welcome to Regina’s Speech Centre!

Regina Speech Centre is a private practice speech and language therapy clinic that aims to provide quality, family centred therapy services to children and families in Regina and surrounding areas. We offer assessments, consultations and direct therapy to children birth to school age in our community. We offer services using the most current, best practice  methods at our centre, in homes, schools and daycares.

We offer comprehensive therapy focusing on children as a whole.  We are able to support your child through using our many years of experience in our field, and have expertise in many of the following areas:

  • speech delays
  • early language development (toddlers)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • stuttering
  • parent coaching
  • expressive and receptive language disorders
  • motor speech disorders (Childhood apraxia of speech)
  • cochlear implants
  • auditory processing
  • literacy and language
  • developmental and global delays
  • preschool language development

Contact us today so we can help you meet your family’s needs!

 

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