By Christine Marchant
There many ways a child will show you that he or she doesn’t want to cooperate. There are many reasons the child isn’t cooperating. Although it may be difficult to figure out why a child is behaving a certain way, it may be counterproductive to make assumptions regarding the motives of his or her behaviour. In the previous post I described how I responded to the volatile child that verbally attacked a CDF (child development facilitator) with everything he had in his skill box. These are the children that are the hardest to love and accept. They tend to push away everyone, which is sad because they really are in need of the love, smiles, hugs, acceptance, and guidance from an adult. In this post, I will describe how I respond to the child that runs away, or darts and hides. These children are difficult to communicate with because they resist by removing themselves from what they see as a threat. These children will refuse to participate in activities and often will climb railings, shelves, counters, tables, etc. Taking these children outside is a HUGE danger!
Communicating with these types of children takes a lot of quiet body and patience. It looks like you are doing what the child wants, but that’s because you are! You need to guide the child to do what you want him to do, and you do this by guiding him towards what he is interested in. If you only provide the activities that you want the child to do, and it’s something that the child loves, you will be able to engage him.
Bringing activities that the child loves isn’t going to be enough for these children because this can lead to them becoming rigid and manipulating you into doing what he wants to do, the way he wants to do it. The point of being a CDF is to be the one in charge of bringing the child along and developing a relationship and maturity. I am always talking about meeting the child on his level. This means going to where the child is always running to. If it’s in his bed, have the session on his bed. If he’s running to the top floor landing overlooking the family living area, you go there. If it’s under the table, you go under the table. I once spent half a preschool morning under a table, lying on my belly, watching the class mates and the child I was with help my hand the entire time. I didn’t make any demands, or have any expectations of him. We laid there watching the other children playing. When you go to their safe place, you will see why he choses it and you will get a better feeling for the ‘why’ he’s doing what he’s doing.
If you are working with children, this is where you start the session. As a parent, you are always keeping this goal in mind. The goal is to keep the child regulated and engaged. You want to continue building a relationship with the child and slowly move him from his safe place to a more functional area. This is the fastest way with the least amount of stress and fuss. This can take thirty minutes up to a month. When I have this type of child, I bring my picnic blanket. I place it in the child’s safe place. This is a bridge between the safe place and the place you are going to be. Change only 1 thing at a time. Change is a stressor for these children. Keep the location and the activity, and change the bridge.
Once the child is comfortable and eager to sit and stay on the blanket doing the activities he enjoys, you start to drag the blanket towards the new spot. Some will drag the blanket back to the original spot. You just calmly say, “It’s ok. It’s only a couple of inches, leave it here.” The child will usually accept it. Once the child is comfortable here, you drag it a couple of inches towards the new spot, and you just calmly reassure him that it’s only a couple of inches and it’s ok. Just keep repeating this. Always keep the activities fun and do what the child is engaged in. Keep the blanket, but the only change is the dragging of the blanket to the new place.
When you are doing this, you must remember that the goal is not the activities. The goal is to keep the child calm, engaged, regulated, and moving to the targeted area. When you finally get to the target area, you change the goal. Now the goal is to move the child up to the next level of play, or maybe speech, or social thinking. At this point, the child is now calm, trusting, and has a relationship with you. Keep the blanket and change the activity. You can do occupational therapy, speech, or just play or read on the blanket. The blanket has now become their safe place.
When the child is now engaged in the targeted goals, you will be leaving the blanket more often for longer periods. Eventually, you will remove the blanket. Sometimes the child notices it, but if you time it correctly, he won’t even notice and eventually, you just stop bringing it. This can be the tricky part. With the blanket gone, you must keep the activities fun and the child engaged. Don’t introduce an undesired activity while the child is transitioning to the new place. Make sure that the child remains calm, which may mean that you drop your expectations or demands on the child. If the child does start to get escalated, it is a good idea to keep his favourite toy or book nearby. It’s also ok to be goofy and make silly faces or engage in a lighthearted way that makes the child feel more comfortable. Regardless of the behaviour, every child is still just a child.
By Tammy Cheng
Toilet training involves many steps (discussing, undressing, going, wiping, dressing, flushing, hand washing) and it is a big skill to learn for a child. The secret to success is timing and patience.
Is it time?
Toileting training success depends on physical, developmental and behavioural milestones, not age. Many children show signs of being ready for toilet training between ages 24 and 36 months. However, others might not be ready until they’re 4 years old. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if your child is ready:
- Can your child stay dry for up to two hours?
- Does your child seem uncomfortable with soiled or wet diapers?
- Can your child communicate when he or she needs to go?
- Can your child understand and follow basic directions?
- Can your child walk to and sit on a toilet for a few minutes?
- Does your child have regular and predictable bowel movements?
- Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
- Does your child seem interested in using the toilet or ask to wear grown-up underwear?
If you answered mostly no, you might want to wait. If you answered mostly yes, your child might be ready.
Ready, set, go!
When it’s time to begin potty training, follow these steps:
- Get the equipment ready.Place a potty chair in the bathroom or, initially, wherever your child is spending most of his or her time. Make sure your child’s feet rest on the floor or a stool. Read story books with your child to teach them about potty. Use simple, positive language to talk about the toilet. Start with encouraging your child to sit on the potty in his/her clothes.
- Schedule potty time.Include toileting training into the daily routine. Have your child sit on the potty or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes first thing in the morning, before bedtime, right after naps, as well as every 2 hours throughout the day. Allow your child to get up if he or she wants. Offer praise for trying and remind your child that he or she can try again later. To maintain consistency, bring the potty chair with you when you’re away from home with your child (i.e. camping, road trip).
- Be ready any time!Keep your child in loose, easy-to-remove clothing. When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet (i.e. “pee dance”, squatting or holding the genital area), respond quickly. Stop what you child is doing, take him/her to the bathroom, help him/her undress, and sit on potty. Try not to push for immediate results. After a few minutes, help the child with the rest of the routine and give praise for the effort or any successes they had. Help your child become familiar with these signals, and praise your child for telling you when he or she has to go. Consider using a small reward immediately when your child actually voids in potty. It is more effective when your child is intrinsically motivated.
- Ditch the diapers.After a couple of weeks of successful potty times and remaining dry during the day, your child is ready for underwear! Celebrate the transition. Consider using a sticker or star chart for positive reinforcement.
Nap and night-time training typically take longer to achieve. It depends heavily on body functions, and it usually comes naturally as the child gets used to controlling the bladder throughout the day. Most children can stay dry at night between ages 5 and 7. In the meantime, use disposable training pants and waterproof mattress protector when your child sleeps.
- If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn’t getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break. Chances are he or she isn’t ready yet. Try again in a few months.
- Accident happens. Never punish or shame your child for accidents. Stay calm, clean and change your child immediately. Be positive and reassuring that they will be successful.
- Never force your child to sit on the toilet against their will or for long periods of time if they do not want to. This could set up a power struggle and negative feeling towards toileting training.
- Plan toilet training for when you or a caregiver can devote the time and energy to be consistent on a daily basis for a few months.
- For boys, it’s often best to master urination sitting down, and then move to standing up after bowel training is complete.
- Toilet training may best be accomplished by starting at home first, and then at child care.
When to seek help
If you have questions about potty training or your child is having difficulties, talk to your child’s doctor or Occupational Therapist. He or she can give you guidance and check to see if there’s an underlying problem!
By Christine Marchant
If you have read my previous posts, you’ll notice that I have a system for teaching 5-W-H questions. Levels one through three deal with concrete who, what, where, when, why, and how questions, while level four is concerned with asking the child about what can happen in the future. It’s quite easy to teach the first two levels. When the child becomes more aware of their world, and isn’t easily entertained by the simple flash cards or photos, the teaching becomes more challenging. I find that they are now more interested in the games. I like to try plenty of new games to test the child’s interest and to see if the game will match the goal. We play the game at least three times with no target goals. This is how I build the interest and desire to play the game. The goal here is to create a strong desire to play the game. At this level, it’s the game and the interactions with the people that keep the child involved and wanting to cooperate. It doesn’t matter what the game is, as long as you explain to the child that the reason you are doing the sessions is to help the child achieve the targets. Hopefully, at this level, you’ve already created a relationship of trust and honesty. This is my favorite level of the relationship with the child because they are opened enough to actually understand why you are spending the time with them. They are usually enthusiastic about achieving their goals. I explain to the child that we play the game with no targets and then when we really enjoy the game we add the targets.
While playing the games, I use a LOT of WE, US, OUR, and TEAM WORK language to motivate the child and let her know that we are working together. The language you use will determine the attitude of the child. They LOVE to take ownership of their learning. By this level, they seldom resist doing their “work.” The games are now a fun way to make the sessions go faster. They may MOAN and GROAN or ROLL their eyes, and declare “you’re the meanest aide EVER!!” BUT, it’s all said in laughter and good cheer. If you have a good relationship with them, you play along, then say, “OK! Let’s get down to business, and get it done. ” If you don’t have a relationship with the child and are just jumping in, don’t start at this level!! If I were to start teaching the 5-W-H without knowing the child, I would ALWAYS start at a lower level and see where the child is, then move up the levels, in the same order, at the speed that matches the child. This level is based entirely on trust and a relationship with the child.
Teaching what happens after is the trickiest part for children because it requires abstract thinking. It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future. The future is difficult because it can be any possibility. The past now seems more concrete than the future because it’s easier to prove. If you have one of those children that LOVE to argue and declare that a dragon has super powers and can possibly run for government in the future, LET IT GO!!!! Don’t argue with the child, but try to remember the goal! At this point, the goal is opening their minds to future possibilities, not to debate what the future actually can be (natural consequences will take care of that). Here is my method:
1) Find books and tons of photos that show a ton of details. I use books, flash cards, random photos, even advertisement photos.
2) Bring out their favorite game and lay the photos beside the game.
3) At this level, the child already knows the expectations.
4) Start the game. The first player looks at the picture and describes what she sees. This is important because this gives the story as they see it. It’s concrete, so use concrete language like “the people are in the boat”, “the dog is in the water”, or “the waves are huge”.
5) All the players look at the picture, then agree or disagree with the player’s description.
6) The player then says what the possible future may be. Using the language, “I think the waves will push the boat over”, “I think they will rescue the dog”, or “I think the people in the boat will be beamed up by aliens”. It doesn’t matter what the child says. The goal is not to correct the child’s idea of the future. The goal is to have the child be flexible in their thinking. If it’s dark, you can leave it, or have your version of the future when it’s your turn. Do NOT correct the child during their turn. It’s their turn and you can damage the relationship if you are constantly correcting the child on their turn. Save that for another goal, at another time.
7) When the child is finished predicting, the turn is over and they take their turn playing the game. Often by this level, the interest can be more into the predicting than playing the game. If the child wants to go on and on with their predictions, let them because the game is not the goal. This does not go on for hours. Whenever you choose to teach a target, you choose the system and how long it will last. You can set the expectation as an open ended game, which is with a timer, or closed ended one, which is with the number of turns.
8) I alternate between the open and closed ended. We seldom ever finish the game at this level, which is not a big deal.
9) Never let the game go for more than ten minutes for the very young, and fifteen for the older children. Put on the timer, and when it goes off, you say, “Do you want the game to be over?” or “Do you want to play for another ten or fifteen minutes?”.
10) If they choose game over, you can smile and say it was a fun game. If they choose to play, set the timer. If they want more, you tell them that you will play it at the next session, and then keep your word.
This is the end of sharing how I teach 5-W-H questions. In the future, I will share the different approaches I take. The system always stays the same, but the approach and materials change. As I said in earlier posts, I’m not a therapist or have formal education in teaching. I am a mom for thirty-one years and have lots of experience with children from parenting and running a private day home for twenty years. I was also a nanny in between and during doing those jobs. I have also been a child development facilitator for five years. I hope you enjoyed my posts, and found at least one tip to help you teach the 5-W-H questions!
By Christine Marchant
If you read my previous posts, you’d notice that I have a system to teaching the 5-W-H questions.
By the time the child has surpassed level two and is ready for level three, he is not impressed with the ‘preschool’ attempts. The magnetic fishing and the Caribou games no longer hold his interest. Using basic pictures will often bore him to death! There is no right or wrong way to teach, but the best way is to match your system to the child’s learning style. It is important to observe if the child is an active or passive learner. The active learner loves games and action. The passive learner prefers work sheets, scrabble and card games etc. I have watched many therapists teach the 5-W-H questions to children. Most of them are for younger children, I have had a few older children that are a bigger challenge. The little children are happy with ANY game you come up with, while the older ones are more tricky. With the older children, I find just saying: “this is our target—this is what we are doing and when we are finished, then you can play your game” is the more effective. We set up their favorite game, then we do “target” then your turn, “target” then your turn. My rules are that we do two cycles of “target’ games, then we do one game “free style” game. Free style is playing the game any way the child wants to. It’s ok if the child rigs it for them to win EVERY TIME! I don’t care! Just get the child hooked.
Teaching before and after is often a challenge. It’s vague and abstract thinking. It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future. That’s why I teach “before” first.
1) Find books or photos that show a TON of details in each photo. I use books, flash cards, and random photos saved on to my Ipad.
2) I bring out their favorite game, then the photos.
3) At this level, the child is already hooked into the program. The first player looks at the photo, and describes what is in the photo, then says what he thinks might have happened just before this photo.
4) The other players can agree or disagree. This opens an interesting conversation.
5) Follow the same pattern that I shared in the previous posts:
What do you suppose happened before the girl fell off her bike?
Who do you suppose she was with?
Why do you suppose she fall off the bike?
Where do you suppose she was?
When do you suppose this happened?
How did we come up with the “before” information?
6) When all players are satisfied with the answers, the player takes their turn.
7) By providing their favorite game, the child is usually motivated to do the “work”.
8) Sometimes, at this level, the child finds it difficult and tries to avoid the “work”. If this happens, just sit quiet and say, first we do the “target” then you can play the game. The desire to play usually is enough.
I find it very rewarding to see the children go on this journey. I love seeing the look of amazement and understanding in their eyes as they become more aware of their world. I decided in high school that I wanted to work with children and I’ve enjoyed every year. I have one more post on this topic, which involves teaching “after” and then I move on to teaching other aspects of language.
By Christine Marchant
I am sharing my experiences as a mom for 30 years, a Day Home Provider for 20 years, and a Child Development Facilitator for 5 years. The first post in this series was sharing the first basic level of how to teach the 5-W-H questions, which are “who, what, where, when, why how” to a child. If you read my earlier post, you would have read one of the ways I taught the 5-W-H questions. There are MANY different ways to teach it. This is only one of the ways I found to be successful. If the child doesn’t have that basic level of understanding, trying to teach any higher level is possible, but is more difficult. Exposing the child to “social thinking” is a tricky thing to teach…. Ok, it actually isn’t. I was finding it complicated, until I realized that I’ve been doing it for years. Today, I have chosen one of the many ways. I decided to stay with the formula I wrote about previously.
Level two deals with more abstract ideas and requires a little more effort and preparing than level one. It is important to pick one system or formula and stay with it throughout the whole journey. Children like patterns and like to know what is expected and it’s more consistent. When choosing what approach you will take, you need to know what type of learner the child is and what will keep their attention. An active learner prefers games and action and a passive learner enjoys worksheets, using dry erase pens, etc. The next important step is to assess what level the child is. ALWAYS teach at the child’s level. The next step is to always teach responsibly. No one knows what someone else is feeling or thinking etc. This is why it drives me CRAZY when I see an adult saying, “what is the boy thinking?” or “What is he feeling?” or “where is the boy?”. The first level, you can do this. It’s concrete, and that the level the child is. After that, I prefer to say, “What do you suppose the person is thinking?” I try not to tell the child that a picture is a boy or girl. I try not to label the gender, but instead follow the lead of the child. If the child insists the child in a dress is a boy, I don’t correct him or try to convince him it is a girl. (I gloss over it) because It’s not my place to enforce my opinion on to the children. Keep the goal in mind!! We are teaching 5-W-H not genders.
I found looking at simple photos and asking the 5-W-H questions gets stale FAST! The child gets bored easily. They are very clever. Not all the 5-W-H questions are relevant to every photo. I prefer photos with LOTS of details and actions. Sometimes all questions are not applicable to every photo. My favorite way to teach is through books. I go to a thrift store and for $1, I buy books with a lot of expressions and emotions. I glue blank paper over ALL of the typing. YES! Deface that book! Then I look at each page and type out my own 5-W-H questions that are relevant to what the picture is showing. This sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I just glue on the level I’m currently teaching. I then add more questions as the child achieves their goals. I start one level at a time. You can use the same book for the entire journey. Don’t put all the levels at once. In level 2, we are exposing the child to “what is the person thinking” and “what is the person feeling.” You can use different books, every child has different interests. You can put your books in your tool box and pull out different books, as long as you stay with the same system. Keep the “thinking” questions to the left page and the “feeling” questions to the right page. Stay consistent. This comes in handy when you have an active learner. I will describe the games I use for my active learners at a later date.
Here is an example of the book I made this week for my older child:
I covered the original story, and I typed “thinking” questions on the left page.
What do you suppose the Mom is thinking?
What do you suppose the child is thinking ?
Why do you suppose the Mom is thinking?
Why do you suppose the child is thinking?
Who else may be thinking ?
Where do you suppose they are?
When do you suppose this is happening ?
How can you tell Mom is thinking?
How can you tell the child is thinking?
You can talk about their expressions, or how the body is showing what they may be thinking. Look! The Mom’s eyes are large and round, her hands are in the air, etc. What do you think she’s thinking about? Etc. Then on the right page, I typed “feeling” questions.
What do you think the Mom is feeling?
What do you think the child is feeling?
Who else may be feeling?
Why do you think the Mom is feeling?
Why do you think the child is feeling?
Where do you suppose this is happening ?
When do you suppose this is happening ?
How can you tell Mom is feeling?
How can you tell the child is feeling?
There are no right or wrong answers. I use this as a conversation starter and encourage a discussion or even debate about what the character is feeling. As we go along the journey, this easy going approach has the child feeling good and positive about sharing ideas and debating each person’s opinions etc. This teaches the child that other people have their own thoughts and feelings and they are sometimes different than what the child believes.
At the first glance, it looks like it isn’t teaching social thinking. “Ask your Mom, how are you.” “Ask your brother why he is crying,” etc. I found the child wasn’t able to do that in a genuine inquiry. They ask that because they are taught to ask those questions. You take a book, and you are ‘discovering’ these questions. There are no right or wrong questions and answers, but a genuine conversation happens. It is an exchange of ideas. The child’s awareness blooms and they are genuinely interested in the people and things around them.
The next post will be sharing my experiences in teaching the 5-W-H before and after the picture we are looking at. Exposing the child to an even deeper level of thinking about what could have happened earlier to cause this person to be thinking___ or feeling____.
By Simran Saroya
Outdoor is essential in a child’s life just as fruits and vegetables are. Natural elements incorporated into a child’s play is very important, it allows them to start understanding this world and how it works as well as build knowledge. Allowing the child to play outdoors will strengthen muscle strength and coordination, allow for deeper exploration and help them gain self-confidence.
Sometimes we think that a playground MUST be present for a child to have fun. In reality, a child can have fun in any environment with almost anything. From swinging on the swing and gaining a new perspective to digging in the dirt and analyzing the world around them. By adding additional equipment for your child to use outdoors you are adding to their learning through play but it is not necessarily needed.
Through this exciting process it was always nice to have someone accompany them. Having a buddy while discovering new things always make things more exciting. Being present and engaged with the child is a fun way to help your child learn new skills and information. An adult being present to answer their curious questions will allow the child to deeper understand the concept and build/ strengthen your relationship. There are six crucial benefits to keep in mind when your child wants to play outside.
- Building Social Skills
- Being Creative
- Exploring New Environments
A child playing alongside peers or adults is co-learning and co-imagining which actually helps with building social skills and benefits their learning. Acorns may just look like acorns to us adults but to a child it could be food play or a treasure, you never know what their little minds will come up with. Roleplay is the most common way a child mimics the adults around them. This behavior is having them use their imaginative and creative side to come up with these scenarios. Using their imagination allows them to be creative and explore further and deeper into their play. Playing outside also has long term health benefits such as reduction of stress, regulation of the body and vitamin D consumption.
Now, you may be stuck with the question “How do I get my child to play outside?”.
In the world of technology today it is getting harder and harder to get their minds less engaged in screens and more engaged in the natural environments. Some ideas I can suggest include the following: to have a picnic, draw with chalk, turn on the sprinklers, go find some treasure or even ride bicycles together or with a friend. The chilly winter shouldn’t’ stop you either! In the winter the child can build snowmen, snow angels and paint the snow. Summer or winter, the child will find something to do outdoors regardless of the situation. Being prepared for the weather is the adult’s job, let the children do the rest.
Remember: Play does not have to be structured, let the child take the lead sometimes!
By: Simran Saroya
Sometimes we feel that it is easy to hand our children the iPad or phone to keep them occupied. Even on a snow day or a rainy day there are ways to make these situations positive interactions. Giving them a phone or tablet is easy but not the most interesting choice for your child. Indoor play can consist of more stimulating, fun and active play that will help your child’s brain develop.
When we think about indoor play, we talk about roleplaying, games and engagement opportunities. If you are baking cookies, having the child present and engaged is a form of play for them where they can use their senses and create something new. When thinking about play we should consider all five senses: look, listen, touch, smell and taste. Where can my child use these five senses with me?
Through play children are able to create healthy brain architecture which allows them to have better peer social interactions, use their imagination and creativity and engage with the world around them. Play is so important for children; it is the foundation to all the learning that is going to happen here on forward. Play can also strengthen physical, emotional and cognitive strength within the child.
Now indoor play, how do you play inside on a rainy day or a day where the outdoors is not easily accessible? Here is a list of things you can do indoors with your child!
- Board games
- Scavenger hunt
- Make slime!
- Cook with your child (cookies, jello, rice krispies, or even prep for dinner)
- Read stories
- Visit an indoor play place (Telus Spark, Glenbow, swimming, Calgary public library)
Let your child take the lead and have them decide what they would like to do indoors with you or with a friend. This way the child feels a sense of independence in choosing an activity or game. Children create and preserve friendships through play therefore indoor and outdoor play are both essential in a child’s growth and development.
Understanding the benefits in your child’s play can be a bit confusing. Play fosters cognitive growth meaning that is essential for healthy brain development. Sometimes we believe that play must have a goal behind it, a structure to it. In reality, free play positively affects neurological connections by making those circuits in the brain stronger. Free play will allow your child to build communication skills, self-confidence and intelligence. Through play children become less anxious and more resilient to deal with real life situations. Once the adults in the child’s life understand how important it is to play, the child will benefit and the adults will benefit. Promoting play as quality time spent indoors will strengthen your relationship with your child and allow for meaning making and a world of connections to be brought to the table. It is amazing what their little minds can come up with!
By: Stephanie Magnussen
Most parents know that it is important to read to their children. Many parents do this naturally before bed even when their children are very young. Children crave language and pick up on so much of what parents say in conversation during the day, but book reading is another opportunity to add words and phrases that may not naturally occur in everyday speech. This exposure to language adds variety to the input kids are getting on a daily basis and can increase their language abilities.
The more you read to your child, the more language she will potentially acquire early on. When parents read to their child, they use more diverse vocabulary and rephrase sentences in different ways, exposing children to varied sentence structure. We have all noticed that as we get older, it gets harder and harder to master a new language. Children learn an entirely new language within their first few years of life without even realizing they are mastering such a complicated skill. During these impressionable years, it is important to expose children to not only lots of vocabulary, but different ways of saying things. Books give parents the opportunity to get out of their daily way of speaking and add some different flavor to the language they are exposing to their children. It also gives kids the chance to directly engage with the words and phrases on the page.
There are easy principles that can be applied to the way a parent reads to this child that can promote language development. This method of dialogic reading can be used for typically developing children as well to increase language skills! Parents can and should start reading to their children as early as eight months to aid in their language development.
- Guess the plot of the book after reading the title. The first time you and your child read a book, read the cover page to your child. Encourage her to guess what the book could be about and take your time talking about this.
- Point to the words on the page as you read. Once you have read a book to your child one time through, point to the words as you are reading them. You can name some of the letters and identify which one is the same as the first letter in her name.
- Expand on your child’s sentence. If a child says “blue,” the parent can respond and say “Yes, the kite is blue and so is the sky!”
- Model, model model! If a child cannot answer the question, simply say “That is a kite. Can you say kite?” This will instill a sense of accomplishment when they can repeat or attempt the word even if they were not able to find it the first time. Then, later on, when they have learned the word, give them praise!
- Pause reading and respond to what a child is interested in on the page. Sometimes a child will point to or name something while a parent is reading. Pause and expand on this by giving context to what she has named. For example, “Yes, that is a kite and we can fly kites on windy days.” This is also a good opportunity to talk about the story. You can ask, “Remember when he flew the kite?” or “Have you ever flown a kite?”
- Prompt your child to read with you. Leave out the last word in a sentence and encourage your child to fill it in.
- Have fun! Reading can be free flowing with pauses to talk about interesting things on the page. Parents can engage a child by asking her to help turn the page, encourage turn taking by pointing to objects and naming them, etc. There should not be any pressure associated with reading and children should feel encouraged. Make reading into a game or activity that you can share with your child!
By: Stephanie Magnussen
At Connecting Dots, the therapists are skilled at creating play based learning activities based on the individual child’s needs. When learning is play based, the child looks forward to sessions with the therapists and this excitement makes it easier for the child to be engaged in the activity. Based on each individual’s contract, the therapists will work with the child a few times each month. I work as an aide, and am therefore with the clients and families multiple times a week, enacting the therapists’ and family’s goals through creative and play based approaches. I was looking for a game for one of my clients that promoted long sentences, complex ideas, and smooth speech when I found Story Cubes. Story Cubes are affordable and fun and have been working really well with my clients!
Story Cubes are a set of nine, six-sided dice that have an image on each side. Each player rolls three to four dice at a time and has to create a story based on the images. When I use it with my clients, I have a sheet of paper next to us that has the important elements of a story: Plot, Setting, Characters, Conflict, Solution, and Theme. Based on the developmental goals of the child, theme is optional to include as it can be abstract. In the first roll, player one must create the setting and identify the main character. The second roll introduces more characters, and expands on the plot. The conflict is introduced between the second to fourth roll and the solution is achieved in the fourth to eighth roll. Of course there can be as many rolls as one likes, but I find that kids can get distracted by too many details, and the stories make more sense when there are six to eight story turns total. After ever two turns, I refer back to the piece of paper that has the list of important story details and the child recounts what has happened so far and identifies each of the major components of our story. If I am trying to promote smooth, clear speech with my client, I keep a tally of all of the smooth sentences that are over eight words that my client has said. I involve the client in this, so it isn’t anxiety provoking for him or her. I’ll say things like, “Wow! That was a really smooth sentence! I think you should make a tally on the smooth sentence side,” or “Take a deep breath before you start your next sentence because it is going to be a long one!” After a few sessions, I can see the progress of smooth versus bumpy sentences during story cubes when comparing the smooth vs. bumpy tallies. For older children and when appropriate, after the game is finished, I ask what the theme of our story was. It is always so interesting to see how creative kids can be and it makes for more speech opportunities to give the client the chance to describe the theme.
Story Cubes have been a great tool to use with my clients because it also allows them to be creative and silly. It promotes organized thinking because although it is a free flowing game, certain components of the story have to be identified by certain rolls. Also, the child can’t just create a nonsensical story. I make sure to check in with him or her after ever two turns so that they have a clear understanding of what is happening in the story and what needs to happen to reach a resolution. I make sure to remind each client before his or her turn to take a breath and think about what they are going to say and how each story cube will relate back to the story itself. This has been a great game for kids that are having trouble expanding on ideas, creative writing, are exhibiting non fluent speech, or need help organizing their thoughts or with memory. I bought mine at Wal-Mart, but there are lots of options on amazon.ca as well!