Friday, 25 November 2011

Basic concepts - building blocks of communication

Basic concepts - this is such a broad category!  Preschool programs do a lot of work on teaching basic concepts like numbers, letters, colors and shapes but the term 'basic concept' is used to refer to so many more vocabulary groups.  Toddlers and preschoolers have a lot of work to do to learn the words that describe positions, size, quantity, texture, comparisions, time or sequence and emotions.  These words are critical to understanding directions (eg. 'You can take the big cookie') and make it so much easier for your child to communicate clearly with you (eg. 'Mom I want to wear the yellow shirt').

Learning basic concepts seems to happen almost effortlessly for many children and it's so interesting to watch the progression.  Earlier this week, I was driving my 2-year-old daughter to her dayhome and she asked "Mom are you behind me?".  The concept of 'behind' was emerging...she knew the word and knew that it referred to a position, but she didn't yet know what position.  I explained that I was in front of her and that the stroller was behind her (in the back of our vehicle).  Just this morning, while we were taking the same drive, she stated "Mom, you're behind me" - just like that the concept was mastered.  Several months ago, my husband and I were showing our daughter different sizes of balls and asking her which one was big and which one was little.  She wasn't yet very consistent at understanding these words, but just last night while I was putting her to bed, she told me that she was a 'little honey' and I was a 'big honey.'  Yet another concept is mastered.

Pay attention to the types of words your toddler is using and how well they're able to follow directions you give them.  You may have some great examples of your own about basic concept learning, or you may find a few that your child needs help learning.  You can seize the 'teachable moments' like in my first example or find fun ways to teach these concepts clearly to your child like my second example shows.


Monday, 14 November 2011

That first smile!

With a new baby in the house, I've spent many minutes over the past week trying to coax a precious smile from my 4 week old son!  We've seen the occasional smile over the past 2 weeks, but we've had to work hard for them!  I've joked that it's easy to distinguish between that true social smile and a 'gas' smile because the 'gas' smile appears suddenly and disappears just as see the corner of baby's lips turn up briefly and drop suddenly, whereas, the social smile develops slowly (and usually takes a little tickling and encouragement from you to fully develop) and fades away just as slowly too.   

New babies usually flash their first real smile around 4 weeks of age.  This is their first true social interaction with you so it's an exciting milestone!  Once you see that first smile, it might remain evasive for several more weeks, but baby should gradually start flashing you that smile frequently...and melting your heart every time!  If your infant is not yet smiling, don't worry smiles can be easy to miss and a baby who doesn't smile a lot isn't necessarily headed for communication delays.  The next milestone to watch for is the cooing and gooing (these noises are also heart-melting!).

Enjoy those smiles when you can get them!


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Ipad apps. to help kids learn language?

Apps. are such a buzz in most circles these days and the world of Speech-Language Pathology is no different.  I recently checked out 'Speech with Milo' which offers apps. to help kids learn about verbs (action words), prepositions (location words) and sequencing as well as an interactive storybook app.  Since I focus my attention on toddlers (and happen to have one at home to practice with) I checked out the verb and preposition apps. which can be used with kiddos as young as age 2.  My daughter sees me use my smartphone all the time and whenever she gets her hands on it, she randomly jabs at the screen, so she was very enthusiastic when I helped her use the Ipad to try these apps.  Sure enough, she quickly caught on to how to make 'Milo' move.

Both of these apps. are just $2.99.  The graphics are cute and simple and the basic idea is to provide the user with an interactive flashcard to help kids learn the concept.  Once my daughter touched Milo, he moved to help her learn the concept he was teaching (for example, he got 'in' and 'out' of the car).  Once his action was complete, I could click 'phrase' to have the concept word used in a phrase too. 

The creator provides additional ideas about how to use the app. and help teach the concepts and you're able to select words to work on or just run through the complete list.  There's a cute little interactive 'break' built-in to the activity too.

Check out this app.  online at