3 talking tips for raising empathetic children

Have you ever shared an experience with someone where instead of feeling heard, you were on the receiving end of sympathy, comparison or worse, a lack of interest? 

Empathy has the power to make or break personal and professional relationships.  It is a cognitive skill that develops over time.  We are all born with the potential to develop empathy but it is a taught skill, arguably the most important skill a parent can teach their child. 

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A word on speech. “She’ll grow out of it…won’t she?”

I often wonder what it is that triggers parents to make the decision to bring their child to a speech pathologist. So many parents are under the impression with talking, that it is better to ‘wait and see’ if they catch up or let them develop ‘at their own pace’. I wonder if this ‘wait and see’ approach would apply if the child was not walking at 2 years of age or was not toilet trained by 4?
As speech pathologists we know that the best thing to do if you are concerned about your child’s speech or language skills is to ‘address it today and not to delay’. In fact, the timing of visiting a speech pathologist is actually crucial.

Research shows that from birth to 5 years, children learn language through back-and-forth interactions with their parents. The less a child speaks or the less intelligible they are, the less these interactions occur. Check out the full article written by the Hanen Organisation about ‘Why it is important to start early’.

However, I am as guilty as the next parent at putting my head in the sand and hoping things will just work out. So for argument’s sake, I have put together the top 3 reasons ‘for’ and ‘against’ taking your child to see a speech language pathologist.

Continue reading “A word on speech. “She’ll grow out of it…won’t she?””

What if my child doesn’t know his ABCs?

At this time of year, we know that parents may be wondering, “Is my child ready for school?” coupled with potential doubts about their child’s abilities – “She only knows a few letters of the alphabet.”. If that is you, read on!

Firstly, we need to put it out there reading is not a natural process. It is a taught skill and in contrast to learning to talk, which is a wonderful development that happens (for the most part) naturally.

Nearly four decades of scientific research on how children learn to read supports an emphasis on phoneme awareness and phonics in a literature-rich environment. These findings challenge the belief that children learn to read naturally. (Lyon, G.R., 1998).

What is a literature-rich environment?

Having books read to them and having access to looking at books themselves is a good starting point however a literacy-rich environment demonstrates how literacy is useful in everyday life by allowing children to interact with print/texts independently and with parents/educators. This helps children understand WHY they need print, WHAT they use it for and HOW it is useful in everyday life. In other words, it needs to fun, engaging and meaningful to them.

What are some examples of print in everyday life?

  • Your child’s name!
  • Common shop names (e.g. McDonalds, Woolworths)
  • Street signs (e.g. SLOW)
  • Symbols (e.g. arrow, cross)

What do I do after I find this print?

Point it out and be excited when you discover it!
“Oh, look at this letter S on the SLOW sign. It’s just like the S at the start of your name, Sam.”

Talk about symbols and what they mean.
“A symbol is something you can read but it doesn’t have any words. See this arrow – I know that the way it is pointing is the way I need to go.”

Use the terminology
“Ah yes, that is the letter ‘M’ and underneath it is the word ‘McDonald’s”

If you’d like to read more about print awareness, check out more posts here on our blog or our Instagram.

Our play activities incorporate print is lots of ways – see all the themes and membership options available here, or see the activities in action here, here and here!

There will be more posts coming about phonemic awareness – another very important foundational skill that supports learning to read.

Thanks for hearing our call,
Your Little Birdies

Lyon, G. Reid. (1998). Educational Leadership, v55 n6 p14-18.

Language skills may have the greatest impact

Preparing young children for school is the goal for many parents and preschool programs. Research has told us that the more skills children bring into their schooling – in basic maths, reading and social skills – the more likely they will succeed in those same areas in school.

Superskill for school success

But is there a superskill to school readiness? We sure think so – LANGUAGE. A study published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly say that a child’s vocabulary and grammar not only predict future success with written and spoken language, but it also impacts performance in other subject areas.

Dr Amy Pace and her colleagues looked at data for more than 1200 children in the US and looked at several measures of academic and social skills at specific ages and grade levels, including upon school entry and in grades 1, 3 and 5.

The findings reveal that of the skills and milestones evaluated — social/emotional, attention, health, reading, maths and language — only language skills, when a child entered school, predicted his or her performance both within that subject area and most others (maths, reading and social skills) from first through fifth grade.

Why does language affect so many areas?

Language is a foundational skill in social interaction. If you have strong language skills, you will be able to communicate with peers and teachers.

Language skills help with executive functioning – the ability to understand follow instructions from the teacher.

Language skills help with maths and science – terminologyand abstract concepts rely on the knowledge of language.

When kids learn to read at school, strong language skills means they can understand WHAT they read.

How can I support my child’s language skills?

Talk, read and play! Ongoing interactions and conversations with your child about things that interest them will encourage them to explore, ask questions, make comments and retell stories.

Our NEW 6 month membership has just launched – the perfect addition to your home with a high quality picture book, reading guide and play activity arriving to your door each month. Designed by speech pathologists and tested by mums, this will get your kids talking, reading, playing and succeeding!

Thanks for hearing our call,
Your Little Birdies

Pace, et al. (2018). Measuring success: Within and cross-domain predictors of academic and social trajectories in elementary school, Early Childhood Research Quarterly; Volume 46, 1st Quarter 2019, Pages 112-125.

Be Magical Unboxing

“You can find magic wherever you look.  Sit back and relax.  All you need is a book.” 

Dr Suess

Be Magical is one of three themes in the Prep4Prep package and the importance of this theme really cannot be overstated. Continue reading “Be Magical Unboxing”

Why first words don’t come first

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Parents love first words.  This milestone is one of the most exciting because all of a sudden your baby has become a real little person.  It is the icing on the cake when the first word is also your name.  “Dada” (heart melts).  As speech pathologists, we are often asked when should my child say their first words?  

Well the short answer is at about their first birthday but what many of us don’t realise is that there is a set of skills known as ‘pre-language’ that develop well before they are of ‘speaking age’.  In fact, there’s a lot you can be ‘looking’ for when you are busy ‘listening’ for first words.  Here are our top 3 ‘look fors’ before first words:

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