The FWSU Story: May is Better Speech and Hearing Month

Some Words From Your Fletcher School Speech-Language Pathologist

Happy May! Do you know why speech therapists love May so much? It’s because May is BETTER SPEECH AND HEARING MONTH! That’s right, the month you’ve all been waiting for, and with it some tips for how to enrich your child’s speech and language development.

We all know the benefits of technology and love our cell phones and tablets. There are some creative and wonderfully stimulating screen activities for kids that, in moderation, can enhance learning. But, the best way parents can foster language development is simply by having unhurried, attentive conversation with our kids. The back-and-forth sharing of our thoughts and feelings about what is going on around us, and the relating of recent events, provide not only relevant and necessary vocabulary and grammar, but essential social and emotional bonding, which are the foundations for language and literacy development. It is not recommended for any child under the age of 18 months to play on a screen. Below is a link for the American Academy of Pediatrics if you’d like to learn more about responsible screen time for children:

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx

Of course, reading to our children is excellent for speech and language development, but did you know that reading different versions of the same stories is one of the single best things you can do to teach vocabulary and grammar? If you see a copy of “Jack and the Beanstalk” at a yard sale, don’t just think, “We already have it.”  If it’s a different version from the one you already have, pick it up! Talk about the similarities and differences between them, including the artwork. So much appreciation for words, stories and art can come from this simple interaction. Stories with rhythm, rhyme and repetition are the best because of their musical qualities.

Music, singing, and playing with words and language (like speaking in Pig Latin) are known to stimulate neural pathways that foster speech and language. And, that doesn’t mean only for preschoolers.  All through elementary and middle school these activities are delightful and meaningful. We all learn while having fun and experiencing novelty. Is your child wearing flip flops? Call them “flop flips” and notice the reaction.

Of course, all of this rich language stimulation needs a good set of ears to take it all in with. It is important to protect our kids’ hearing. Earbuds are popular and even used in schools.  We must remember that the distance from the sound to the eardrum is what can cause damage to our hearing. If the sound is close to the ear, it must not be too loud. Please monitor your children when they are wearing earbuds. Do not allow them to have the sound too loud.

Enjoy authentic conversation and stories with your children and you will be well on your way to teaching them effective communication and fostering their emotional well being.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about how to facilitate your child’s speech and language development. I have many ideas and resources to share and love to share my passion for this topic with any interested person!

Talk, rhyme, sing and be silly!

Contributed by Phyllis Quarles, M.A., CCC-SLP, Fletcher Elementary School Speech Language Pathologist

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