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Beyond the ABCs: How to Promote Reading Success Through Phonological Awareness

Parents are often eager to teach and practice the good old ABCs with their children. However, there are other ways that parents can support pre-literacy development, such as fostering blog-phonological-awareness-main-landscapephonological awareness skills, too! Phonological awareness is the understanding that sentences/words are made up of smaller units, as well as the ability to identify and manipulate these units. Research has found that strong phonological awareness skills are predictors of early reading success. One way to understand phonological awareness is to divide it into different levels: word, syllable, and sound. Check out NSPT’s blog ­Phonemic Awareness Skills to learn more about when these skills are acquired.

Each level of phonological awareness is described below, with activities you can do at home!

Word: The concept of a “word” is an important first step in understanding language. Children are constantly building their vocabulary and using these new words in a variety of ways. There are many ways to begin bringing attention to how words work.

  • Clap out the words of a favorite song (e.g. Old – McDonald – had – a – farm) to help children learn that sentences contain separate words. You can also use musical instruments, tapping on the floor or jumping. This is especially important for “function” words that are more abstract, such as “the,” “and,” “do,” etc.
  • Read books that rhyme as a fun and silly way to teach children to recognize that words have patterns. Check out NSPT’s blog Rhyme Time: 10 Books To Teach Your Child Phonological Awareness for children’s books that contain great stories with rhymes.
  • Enjoy tongue twisters to begin thinking about alliteration (e.g. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. What sound do all of these words start with?). Alliteration, or when every word of a sentence starts with the same sound, is another way to bring attention to patterns in words.

Syllable: Words can be broken down into smaller units, one of which is syllables. Children learn to separate these chunks in a similar manner as they do for words in sentences. Knowing how to do this will help when a child is reading and comes across a multi-syllabic word they are unfamiliar with.

  • Make a bean bag toss in which you provide a multi-syllabic word, and the child has to throw a bean bag into a bucket while saying one syllable at a time.
  • Write the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 on a piece of paper and place them in separate areas of a room. Then give the child a multi-syllabic word and have them run to the number that represents the number of syllables in that word.
  • Sort objects found around the house into groups by how many syllables they have.

Sound: Words can also be broken down to their individual sounds. There are several ways we can manipulate sounds, including identifying (e.g. what is the first sound in “bat?”), segmenting (e.g. what 3 sounds do you hear in “bat”?), blending (e.g. what do the sounds /b/ /a/ /t/ make?) deleting (e.g. what’s “bat” without the /b/?), and substituting (e.g. if you change the /b/ in “bat” to /m/, what word is it?). Here are a few ways to begin prating these in an interactive, multi-sensory way.

  • Play “Simon Says.” Give the last word of the direction by segmenting it into sounds. For example, Simon Says touch your /l/ /e/ /g/, or Simon says stand /u/ /p/.
  • Play “I spy” to bring attention to particular positions of sounds (beginning/middle/end of word). For example, you could say “I spy something that begins with a sssss sound.”
  • Modify “head shoulders knees and toes” by providing a multi-syllabic word. The child can touch their head, shoulder, knees and toes (one per sound) as they figure out what sounds are in the word. For example, /b/ (touch head), /a/ (touch shoulders), /t/ (touch knees).

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Helping Your Child with Word Finding Difficulties

We’ve all had that feeling where our word or thought is on “the tip of the tongue.”  However, when this is recurring and interrupts communication with your child, then it becomes a problem.  Word finding difficulties (also called “word retrieval difficulties”) are not a vocabulary disorder.  Your child understands the definition of the word(s) and has used them before.  Word finding difficulties are the result of difficulties accessing the vocabulary they already have in their repertoire.  Imagine that your child’s vocabulary is like a library.  All the books are there, but your child just may not know where or how to get them.  Word finding difficulties are common in children with ADHD, learning disorders, and language disorders.

Common Signs of Word Finding Difficulty:

  • Using many filler words in place of specific vocabulary: “Where’s my, ah, um, my, um, you know….my backpack?”
  • Whole word/phrase repetition: “Do you know where, where, where my…. backpack is?”
  • Delayed responses: “Where’s my……………..backpack?”
  • Nonspecific language: “It’s on the thing.”

Strategies and Activities to Help Your Child:

  • Give your child time: It is easy to interrupt and fill in your child’s language during moments of word finding.  However, it is important to avoid this and give your child time to think about what he/she wants to say, and independently utilize word finding strategies.
  • Discuss attributes:  ‘Attributes’ are the common features that describe vocabulary – category, function, location, parts, and physical descriptions such as color, shape, and size.  During moments of word finding, encourage your child to describe the common attributes. For example, if your child cannot recall the word “cow,” he/she can provide attributes such as “it’s a big animal that lives on a farm, says moo, and gives us milk.”  As a communication partner, you can prompt your child by saying, “Tell me what it looks like; tell me where you find it.”
  • Sound/Letter cues:  Sometimes providing the initial letter or sound is as helpful to the child as providing the entire word.  As a communication partner, if you know the word your child is thinking of, use this strategy.  When you are unsure, encourage your child to give you the first letter or sound.
  • Word finding games: Word finding games such as Scattergories, Last Word, and Outburst are great games that target word finding skills.  If your child is having word finding difficulties, encourage him/her to use strategies such as identifying the category or function, describing what it looks like, or drawing a picture.

Feel free to share any of your word finding strategies below.  If you think your child has word finding difficulties, contact North Shore Pediatric Therapy and set up a speech-language evaluation.

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How To Teach The Word “More” In Baby Sign Language | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric speech and language pathologist walks us through teaching baby sign language with an emphasis on the word “more”.

To understand the benefits of baby sign language, click here.

In this video you will learn:

  • The best ways and setting to teach your infant sign language
  • Ways to teach the sign “more” to your infant

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m standing here today with Kate Connolly, a Pediatric
Speech and Language Pathologist. Kate, can you tell our viewers how to
teach baby sign language, and maybe, even show us one of the signs?

Kate: Sure. The best piece of advice I can give you for teaching sign
language is to pick words and environments that are very motivating to your
child, so toys that they really enjoy, activities they love, food they
love. Those are all going to be very motivating for the child, and they
will acquire the language a little bit better, and the sign associated with
it.

One of the earliest signs to talk about is the word more. And it’s two duck-
like fingers and then double tap them very quickly, more. And the best time
to teach this is during mealtimes, because what is more motivating than
food for your child. My advice would be that when your child is indicating
that they would like more of an item, so they’re looking at the
refrigerator, or they are looking at you, they’re pointing at the peaches
in your hand. You can do the double tap, “More? You want more peaches?
Let’s have more.”‘ And then immediately provide your child with the
desired item.

As they start to see that, make sure they are focused on you. They are not
looking away, they are not looking at the refrigerator, they need to be
seeing the sign and associating it with the word, more. Enunciate. Change
your volume, “More? More?” That’s really going to help attract the
attention of the child. Then you can help them do the sign for themselves.
Take their hands into a more pattern and have them do it. And slowly,
slowly, as they get comfortable with the sign, gradually allow them a
little bit more time to do it independently, and hopefully you’ll be
signing with your child in no time.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, and thank you to our viewers.
Remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.