speech and language through reading

How to Use Books to Promote Language Development in Babies and Toddlers

 

 

 

Books are a fantastic way to stimulate learning and language development with your baby or toddler. Books provide a way to introduce new vocabulary, increase attention spans, inspire their imaginations, and the best part – reading books with your child is a great bonding experience.

Here are some general tips to consider when reading with your baby or toddler:

Match your child’s language level-Simplify or shorten sentences to match what your child can understand and/or produce.

Be animated!

  • Vary your intonation
  • Use facial expressions and gestures
  • Use sound effects (i.e. animal noises, “whee!” “whoosh!”)
  • Stress key words

Show them what you’re talking about by bringing their attention to the page-Point to pictures.

Choose books with fun pictures, animals, numbers, letters, etc.

  • Open flaps, put fingers through holes, press buttons
  • Point to the printed word
  • Demonstrate verbs with actions or gestures

Slow it down.

  • Read at a natural rate
  • Encourage turn-taking – give your child a chance to point, say a word, open the flap, or turn the page

Establish joint attention.

  • Pick books with your child’s interests (i.e. favorite characters, things to do)
  • When your child makes sounds or points, imitate or join in
  • Look at the book and look towards your child when reading to show you’re interested in both the book and them!

Reading is a great time to encourage learning and language development, but also a fantastic time to bond with your child. Remember, make it fun!

Here is a list of books that are some of my personal favorites:

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear – Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster – Ed Emberley
  • Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
  • Hippos Go Berserk! – Sandra Boynton
  • Cars and Trucks and Things That Go – Richard Scarry
  • Peek-a-Who? – Nina Laden
  • My First Word Book – Angel Wilkes
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Willems, or any Mo Willems books, they’re very silly!

Click here for a list of toys to develop language skills in babies and toddlers.

 

Woman reading a book

Great Summer Novels for Caregivers

 

 

 

Summer time is in full swing so in-between camps and parks and playdates, why not sneak a few minutes in for you!  Here are some great “beach” reads to indulge in wherever you are located!  As a former overnight camper, my personal favorite is # 8, The Interestings…brought back memories!

 

1)    The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin, the beloved author of such novels as Something Borrowed and Where We Belong, returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both.Woman reading a book

2)    The Vacationers by Emma Straub

An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.

3)    One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story.

4)    Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

5)    The City by Dean Koontz

A young boy, a musical prodigy, discovering life’s wonders—and mortal dangers. His best friend, also a gifted musician, who will share his journey into destiny.  His remarkable family, tested by the extremes of evil and bound by the depths of love . . . on a collision course with a band of killers about to unleash anarchy.

6)    One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

The summer of 1927 began with Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Babe Ruth was closing in on the home run record. In Newark, New Jersey, Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole for twelve days, and in Chicago, the gangster Al Capone was tightening his grip on bootlegging. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed, forever changing the motion picture industry.

All this and much, much more transpired in the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things—and when the twentieth century truly became the American century.

7)    Friendship by Emily Gould

An immensely relatable novel about a codependent friendship in crisis. Bev and Amy are like Hannah and Marnie with an extra five years’ worth of built-up resentment

8)    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Long after the summer of 1974 ends, a group of teens who bond at artsy Camp Spirit-in-the-Woods enter and exit one another’s lives in Wolitzer’s beautifully crafted, epic novel of friendship and all its joys and heartaches.








 

 

Girl reading with Orton-Gillingham

Benefits of Orton-Gillingham Reading Therapy

WHAT IS ORTON-GILLINGHAM?

Orton-Gillingam is a program that uses a flexible approach to target issues commonly associated dyslexia, such as reading, spelling and writing. This therapy uses both direct and systematic approaches, making what comes naturally to some children more explicit for those who may be struggling to learn the rules of literacy. Orton-Gillingham targets literacy using a multisensory approach, having children learn and practice rules using verbal, visual, and tactile/kinesthetic means to increase association and carryover.Girl reading with Orton-Gillingham

CAN IT HELP MY CHILD?

Orton-Gillingham can help children who are struggling with sound/letter correspondence. Orton-Gillingham uses the “alphabetic principle,” highlighting the predictable association between sounds and letters (e.g., if you hear a “j” sound at the end of the word it is usually “-ge” or “-dge”, as words don’t usually end in “-j”). This direct instruction explicitly targets the rules of literacy, including (but not limited to): magic-e, blends, clusters, sion/tion, vowels, and others. Orton-Gillingham can help improve your child’s ability to read, write and spell, as well as:

  • Decrease reading avoidance
  • Increase segmenting/blending skills
  • Improve understanding of sound-letter relationships
  • Increase ability to sound out words
  • Reduce frustration when reading
  • Improve understanding of spoken and written language

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or has been performing well below grade level, a licensed speech-language pathologist or academic specialists can help! Our SLPs have been trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach and can help if classroom instruction in reading and spelling has been unsuccessful.


 

 

Dyslexia

A Reading List for your Child or Teen with Dyslexia

 Many times, children with dyslexia are misunderstood. Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence, but when grades are low and reading skills are poor, the lines become blurred. This can often make kids feel insecure about their abilities. Dyslexia is quite common, so you and your child are not alone, although it may feel like it at times.

Here is a list of recommended books for children and teens from the Illinois Branch of The International Dyslexia Association:

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles William Eliot

Bauer, James. (1992). The Runaway Learning Machine: Growing Up Dyslexic.  Minneapolis, MN: Educational Media Corporation.

Barrie, Barbara. (1994). Adam Zigzag . New York, NY: Delacorte Press. (young teens)

Betancourt, Jeanne. (1993). My Name is Brain/Brian . New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.

Blue, Rose. (1979). Me and Einstein . New York, NY: Human Sciences Press. (young teens)

Dwyer, Kathleen M. (1991). What Do You Mean I Have a Learning Disability?  New York, NY: Walker & Co. (elementary)

Fisher, Gary & Cummings, Rhonda (1991). The School Survival Guide for Kids with LD.  Minneapolis, MN:Free Spirit Publishing, Inc. (young teens)

Gehret, Jeanne. (1990). The Don’t Give Up Kid and Learning Disabilities . Minneapolis, MN: Raising Readers. (elementary to young teens)

Griffith, Joe. (1998). How Dyslexic Benny Became A Star.  Dallas, TX: Yorktown Press. (young teens)

Hayes, Marnell L. (1994). The Turned In, Turned On Book . Novato, CA: High Noon Books. (teens)

Janover, Caroline. (1995). The Worst Speller In Jr. High , Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. (teens)

Levine, M.D., Mel. (2001) Jarvis Clutch – Social Spy . Cambridge, MA: Educators Publishing Service. (elementary to teens)

Polacco, P. (1998). Thank You Mr. Falker . New York, NY: Putnam Publishing Group. (elementary)

Richards, Regina G. (2000) Eli: The Boy Who Hated to Write – Understanding Dysgraphia . Riverside, CA:RET Center Press.

Stern, M.A., Judith and Ben-Ami, Ph.D., Uzi. (1996). Many Ways to Learn: Young People’s Guide to

Learning Disabilities . New York, NY: Magination. (elementary to early teens) [audiotape also available.]

If you would like to have general information on any of the books listed here, you can search The National Library Service at www.loc.gov/nls. Click on “Search the Catalog:” and type in the book title orthe author’s name to do a search for a short description of the book. Many of these authors have published multiple books on Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities.

what is phonemic awareness

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Literacy, or the ability to read and write, is paramount to a child’s success in school. Many children struggle with these skills, and this struggle may be due to difficulty with the building blocks of reading and writing, also known as phonological awareness. Phonological awareness can be thought of as one’s ability to identify sounds and letters as they relate to our spoken (and written) language. We all remember playing rhyming games in elementary school, but many people are unaware of their importance!

Children who have an understanding of phonological awareness understand that sentences are made up of words, words are made up parts (syllables), and each syllable has distinctive sounds. One great way to practice phonological awareness is through rhyming games and alliteration. Children will enjoy saying tongue twisters like, “Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore.” and identifying how many /s/ and /sh/ words they can count!

Phonemic awareness, a subset of phonological awareness, allows children to manipulate parts of language. Similar to phonological awareness, phonemic awareness is also comprised of parts including the following:
•    Segmenting: what sounds do we hear in the word “hat?” /h/, /a/, /t/
•    Blending: if you hear the sounds /t/, /o/, /p/, what do we get when we put them together?
•    Deleting: what’s “bat” without the “t?”
•    Substituting: if we change the /h/ in “house” to an /m/, what do we get?
•    Identifying: what’s the first sound in “cat?”

Phonemic awareness is separate from letter identification as it targets individual sounds; however, parents can incorporate letter names when practicing.

Phonological awareness typically begins in preschool and continues through early elementary school to prepare children for reading. These skills serve as the foundation for a child’s ability to read and write. If you suspect your child may be struggling with phonological awareness skills, a licensed speech-language pathologist can help!

Click here to read about 7 Ways to Increase Phonological Awareness.

Strategies for Pre-Reading | The Benefits of Wordless Books

 

One of my favorite tools to use in speech therapy is a wordless book. They have endless (okay, maybe not completely endless, there is a story in those pictures) possibilities for creating, imagining, predicting, and story telling.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I LOVE wordless books for kids:

1.    It’s reading before reading. These books can empower a young child to be the storyteller instead of having to listen mom or dad read the words. This encourages story telling skills, language and overall comprehension.
2.    It increases vocabulary.  You can use the objects or actions in the books to introduce new words to your child. It’s also a great way to work on synonyms. For example, your child might say, “The dog ran fast” and you could talk about other ways you express what’s happening in the picture (“The dog ran quickly”).
3.    It works on inferencing. Without words, your child will have to rely solely on the pictures to infer what is happening in the story. You can probe further by asking, “How did you know that?”
4.    It works on predicting. You and your child can talk about what you might think will happen next based on the picture you’re looking at; you can also talk about why they made that prediction.
5.    It introduces story structure. Your child will learn about the beginning, middle, and end of the story as he describes each picture. At the end of the book you can go back and identify, then discuss, each part.
6.    It promotes creativity. Your child is not constricted to the words on the page in wordless books. Because there are no words, the pictures on each page often have a lot to say. This encourages your child to go above and beyond with his story telling.
7.    It helps with story retell. I’ve noticed that children who have difficulty retelling stories they’ve read or heard can retell stories that they have helped develop much easier. Wordless books provide a great building block to retelling stories they have read or heard.
8.    It can help with written language. Older children can write their stories down instead of verbally expressing them. This is a great way to work on descriptive language, sequencing, and overall cohesive writing.
9.    It encourages higher level thinking skills. Some of the pictures can be abstract. This opens up questions like, “What if?” and “What would you do?” “What would it be like to___?”
10.    Wordless Books are fun! I love that the story is always changing and evolving each time you “read” it. Children love to create and use their imaginations, and wordless books provide an outlet for that. It’s amazing to see the ideas that children have and they way they process the information. They may have a completely different idea of what’s happening in the picture than you do; and you may realize, that their idea is often more imaginative and original than your own.

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite wordless picture books:

  • Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
  • The Lion and The Mouse by Pinkney
  • *A Boy, a Dog and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
  • *Frog Goes to Dinner by Mercer Mayer
  • *The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez
  • *Fox and Hen Together by Beatrice Rodriguez
  • *Jack and the Missing Piece by Pat Schories
  • *Breakfast for Jack by Pat Schories
  • The Snowman by Raymund Briggs
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner

* Indicates a book series

Click here to read more about the stages of reading development.  If you have concerns about your child’s early reading, contact our Blossom Reading Program.

Strategies and Resources for Your Child’s Reading Disability

Approximately 3-6% of school-aged children struggle with a reading disability.  This begins to impact students as early as kindergarten and continues to create difficulties across subjects as the child progresses through school.  At NSPT we are frequently asked for recommendations to help students with reading difficulties, both in the classroom and at home.  Below is a list of resources that we have compiled:

Previously known as the Illinois Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, ERI provides information about the diagnosis, research-tested treatments, parent support groups, and community events.  They also keep an up-to-date list of certified tutors in the Chicagoland area.

Bookshare is an excellent online collection of audiobooks, with over 225,000 titles.  Acceptable documentation of the child’s diagnosis (see website for details) grants students free access to download books for use on a variety of electronic devices.

Another option for gaining access to audiobooks, Learning Ally offers features such as highlighting text, play back controls, adjustment of speed and tone of voice for each student’s preference and easy bookmarking.

  • Multi-Sensory Programs

Widely accepted as the gold-standard in reading remediation programs, multi-sensory approaches teach phonics and fluency in a unique way by calling upon the action of various brain systems.  The following have demonstrated effectiveness:

  • Orton-Gillingham
  • Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program
  • Wilson
  • SLANT
  • Earobics

Your child may also have the right to the following:

  • Classroom-Based Accommodations
    • Test directions and/or items read aloud
    • If not read aloud, check for understanding of directions
    • Extended time

For more information on your child’s rights within the public school system, please visit Idea.ed.gov.



Tips to Help Your Child with Word Retrieval

Parents may notice that their child may take longer to respond, may have difficulty picking the right word or may use filler words like “um” or “uh” more often than expected. All of these are signs of word finding difficulties, or trouble retrieving a desired word. These children are not having difficulties with vocabulary, they know the words, they simply can’t always access them in a desired moment. Difficulties with word finding or word retrieval is commonly associated with ADHD, reading disorders, and specific language disorders. If left untreated, word finding difficulties can impact a child’s success in school, notably in both oral and written communication.

So my child has word finding difficulties – now what?

A licensed speech-language pathologist can help! Direct therapy can target these difficulties and create strategies to help both at home and at school.  Parents can also work with their children at home by incorporating these tips into their everyday communications:

Wait: your child knows what he wants to say, he may just need a little more time. Allowing your child to work through these difficulties, retrieve the desired word, and participate in a conversation will help not only his self-esteem, but will also encourage strategy use.

Describe it: encourage your child to describe an object or experience if he is struggling. As adults, we all have all said, “It’s on the tip of my tongue” and have used this strategy. Support your child by having him describe the following:

  • Color (it can be brown)
  • Shape (it’s round)
  • Size (it fits in my hand)
  • Feel (soft or crunchy)
  • Parts (might have chocolate chips, raisins, or sprinkles)
  • Where we find it (at the grocery store)
  • Who uses it (we all do)
  • When do we use it (after dinner)
  • What do we do with it (eat it)

These strategies can be helpful for children who are not having word finding difficulties, too! Describing things will encourage language development and growth and will allow children to expand their repertoire!



How Do I Know if My Child Has a Reading Disability?

Reading Disabilities are estimated to occur at a prevalence rate of 5-10%.  A disability, which is a more chronic struggle with reading without early identification and intervention, must be differentiated from the child who demonstrates a slower process in the normal developmental curve of reading development.  A disability will not resolve with repeated practice, extra attention, or the passage of time.  Below are a few clues to help figure out if there really is a disability.

Clues that Indicate Your Child May Have a Reading Disability:

  • Your child has difficulty with basic rhyming.
  • Your child has always been slow to learn the alphabet and maybe even numbers.
  • Your child struggles with sound-letter associations.
  •  Your child’s writing is illegible.
  • Your child likes to be read to but never wants to read.
  • Sight words, despite repeated practice, are easily forgotten by your child.

At times, differentiating between a disability and other factors (e.g., attention, motivation and interest, or behavior) can make accurate identification difficult.  An evaluation can help tease apart any related factors that may be impacting your child’s success.  If you are concerned with your child’s reading development, you can request an evaluation through our Neuropsychology Diagnostic Clinic.  We have clinicians trained in the diagnosis and assessment of reading disabilities and are able to provide efficacious recommendations to best help your child.
Click here to read about signs of a reading disability across grades.


Learning Disabilities Demystified

Learning concerns are one of the most common neurological issues with which children and adolescents present.  It has been estimated that approximately six percent of the general population meet the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of a learning disability.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), which is the guide book for psychologists and psychiatrists that provides information regarding diagnostic information, indicates that there are several essential features of specific learning disabilities in children.

5 Features of Learning Disabilities in Children:

  1. Persistent difficulties learning basic foundational academic skills with onset during the early elementary years.  The manual indicates that these foundation academic skills include: reading of single words accurately and fluently, reading comprehension, written expression and spelling, arithmetic computation, and mathematical reasoning.
  2. A child’s performance is well below average for his or her age.
  3. Learning difficulties are readily apparent in the early school years in most individuals.  That being said, there are some instances in which the concerns are not fully evident until later in the individual’s academic life.
  4. The learning disorder is specific in that it is not attributed to other factors such as intellectual disability, socio-economic status, medical conditions, or environmental factors.
  5. The deficit may be restricted only one academic skill or domain.

Prior studies have indicated that learning disorders are more common in males than females.  There are several long-term consequences associated with learning disorders in which the individual never receives any intervention, including:  lower academic achievement, higher rates of high school dropout, higher levels of psychological distress, higher rates of unemployment, and lower incomes.
Data has indicated that children with learning disabilities are often at risk for a variety of co-existing conditions including ADHD and social-emotional concerns.  Click here for more information on learning disabilities.