After months with little or no contact with peers and mentors such as teachers, not to mention lack of exposure to sports and leisure activities, some children’s speech and language skills may be a little rusty. Even if they’ve maintained their skills, further development may have stalled or slowed during this time. So how can parents and carers help to get their kids’ communication on track after lockdown, to both support healthy social interaction and learning and set them up for optimal development as life returns to normal? Try these tips from SH speech pathologist Shauna.  

  1. Schedule play dates. Set aside 5 minutes of ‘special time’ each day for you and your child to focus on activities that support speech, language and expression. Make sure you get rid of distractions such as electronic devices.  
  2. Encourage exploration. Depending on your child’s stage of development, get them to choose a toy, activity or book for each session. For younger children, you may choose to listen to a nursery rhyme. Whatever the activity, let your child take the lead. Make a point of commenting on what they’re doing or looking at so they can learn related words and ideas.  
  3. Practise skills. If your child is under the care of a speech therapist or a specialist learning professional, incorporate their ‘homework’ tips and exercises into these 5-minute sessions. 

 If you have a question or concern about a child’s communication, speech and language or interpersonal skills and development, our child and adolescent speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists would love to answer. Ask us in comments!  

Perhaps you’ve wondered whether a child, child in your care or even an adult friend or colleague has a condition that disrupts their social communication and learning? It may be developmental language disorder (DLD).

While few of us may have heard of it, the complex and lifelong condition of DLD is estimated to be 5 times more common than autism spectrum disorder! Which is why yesterday’s DLD Awareness Day deserves a shout out.

The heartening side of the coin is that speech pathologists can effectively work with people of all ages with DLD to help them to overcome or minimise communication challenges and realise their potential.

If you suspect that your child or a student or child in your care may have developmental language disorder and would like advice or insights, our speech pathologists would love to help! Just ask us your question in comments.

Playground chasey. Music lessons. Sports training. Many activities children undertake in a non-lockdown day develop important skills and abilities. But with out-of-home activities on hold, it is largely up to parents to replace them. One way to engage children in tasks that help them to learn and develop is to create games that build in practice (it’s a bit like hiding veggies in their favourite dish). 😏

So, what can you target? Take a cue from our occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physiotherapists and psychologists.

1. Motor skills: ‘Adventure’ games involving crawling, climbing, balancing and jumping can develop gross motor skills while advancing executive function, which helps children to follow instructions and rules. Help them to create a maze or obstacle course using household items such as chairs (e.g. to crawl under) and storage tins or water bottles to weave around. Check for hazards or risks and that activities are supervised.

2. Numeracy: For earlier learners, consider indoor 10-pin bowls using empty water bottles, cans or plastic cups as pins and a tennis ball. Not only will children need to count how many pins fall, but they will need to keep score (if there is only one child, join in to create a fun competition element and encourage turn-taking). This activity also assists with hand-eye coordination. For older learners, cooking involves many numbers-based tasks such as measuring out quantities and monitoring timers. Make sure any tasks involving a stove or oven are performed by an adult.

3. Mental health: Helpful ways to support mental health may include encouraging (and/or supervising) physical activity, from trampolining and backyard cricket to riding a bike around the park. For more than one child, encourage ‘together’ activities. For only children, help them to feel connected to peers, from carefully-chosen multi-player online games to tea party FaceTimes.

If you’re worried about a child’s play or development during lockdown, our children’s experts are here to help.

Soaring Health acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our services are located.

We honour the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to all Elders, past and present.
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