Oftentimes, when a parent of a young child comes in for an evaluation for speech and language, they are wanting tips on ways to help their child. Should I buy certain things? If I have a tablet, what apps are out there that I need to buy? What toys would you recommend? There are so many resources for parents to help their children. It can be overwhelming as a parent to make the decision on what things to invest in.
I always recommend that the best resource to help your child’s development is by reading books, helping them engage in a book, and spending one-on-one time with them. A book is a tool that can address multiple aspects of development. You can make observations on pictures, label, begin phonological awareness with rhymes and sound-letter correspondence, among other things. For little ones, books that have engaging pictures or touch-and-feel help them relate the label of the word to the picture they see. They begin scanning and tracking objects in pictures as well as attending to what parents are pointing to. With older kids, they can begin learning the sequence of a story and increase their ability to remember and retell a story to someone else. Asking and answering questions about books will help them understand concepts and learn how to relate it to their daily life.
Children can use a book to bond with their reading partner. It’s a special time to utilize eye contact, pointing and sharing in a task that helps them learn. Readers shouldn’t be afraid to go away from the written story. If there’s a page that has too many words for your child to understand, change it! Make comments on the pictures or even make up your own story. The wordless picture books can provide a different narrative every time and allow the child to become a participant in the reading of the book, because they can use their own imagination to make up a story. Revisiting the same story and book is often enjoyable for the kid and there’s always something new to look at, talk about, and share with each other!
Readers can comment on vocabulary, basic concepts (i.e. colors, shapes, size, etc.), language concepts (prepositions, location, analogies, actions, etc.) Adjust your comments on pictures with your child’s receptive and expressive language level. If they understand and say one to two word utterances, keeping your observations simpler will help them learn the most important words to know. Readers can ask “what, where, who, when, which and why” questions about a book. Here are some examples of questions:
Who: Who is that? Who has the ball? Who is going to show up next? Who should he talk to if he is upset? Who do you think will win?
What: What is that? What does he have on his feet? What is he going to do? What is he doing? What is on/under the table? What is he eating with? What do you think will happen next? What made him sad? What makes you sad? What should he do to fix the problem?
Where: Where is the bunny? Where is he going to go? Where do planes go? Where should he put it? Where can he sit? ? Where else might we find a flower?
When: When is he going to bed? When do we take a bath? When should the boy tell his teacher about the problem?
Which: Which of the boys has red shoes? Which one should go first? Which way to the house?
Why: Why did that happen? Why do we take a bath? Why does he have his umbrella?
Check with resources around your area: check local libraries, churches, etc. for books and opportunities to help your child socialize and learn in their community. You can also find videos on the internet to guide you through ways to read books to your children and also ask your speech-language pathologist to teach you ways to help you child engage in learning through books.