A few years ago I ran training sessions for early educators and parents on communication, language and literacy. Many of the resources we recommended, including the excellent dvd Chatter Matters, came from the Communication charity I CAN. One of the key messages of this training was that ‘reading and writing float on a sea of talk.’
Kate Freeman, I CAN Communication Advisor and experienced paediatric speech and language therapist says:
Given the right support, many children learn to talk without too much effort. There’s a golden age for learning to talk – this is before 5½ and so skills learnt at this age bring great benefits later on. Evidence has shown the early years to be a vital time for supporting all children’s communication, as well as a time to identify any difficulties and put support in place to improve a child’s overall life chances.
I was very excited to review I CAN’s latest resource Chatting with Children. This is a really nicely presented set of 30 cards with activities for promoting speaking and understanding for children aged 3-5. The activities are simple and require no specialist resources. Some are copying or guessing games of the kind we often play in the car, some require household objects and a couple that I played with my 4-year -old and 2-year-old used our musical instruments box . These games would be great for including in my music groups.
Each card has ideas for making the activity easier if your child is struggling or more challenging if it is too simple. The activities are equally suitable for large groups or one child. They are a great resource for families and could provide a wealth of ideas for small group times at pre-school. Many of the cards remind me of games I played with the autistic children I worked with, helping them extend their vocabulary and comprehension and categorise language. These cards would have been an invaluable resource for these families.
The cards focus on a number of skills, listening, developing vocabulary, social skills and understanding what is said. The games are varied and can be played for a few minutes or half an hour or more. My 4-year-old loved the listening games, playing hide and seek with our timer and listening carefully for the soft tick to help us find it and making sounds with household objects and guessing what they might be.
Chatting with Children is also available as part of a brand new boxset being launched this month by I CAN – the Early Talkers Boxset (£19.99). The boxset contains the original Babbling Babies and Toddler Talk as well as the new Chatting with Children, and has been created especially for parents and Early Years practitioners supporting babies, toddlers and young children in learning to talk.
The three packs between them, contain activities for children from birth to school age. I was so impressed that I am going to order the box set for my brother to play with his one year old twins.
Chatting with Children is available in paperback for £7.99 paperback and hardback for £12.99 .
All proceeds go towards I CAN’s work with the 1.2 million children in the UK who have long-term speech, language and communication difficulties. To purchase Chatting with Children or the Early Talkers Boxset comprising all three activity card sets visit www.ican.org.uk/bookshop .
“Any parent with a question or concern about their child’s communication can contact the I CAN Help Enquiry Service for a call or email from a speech and language therapist – visit www.ican.org.uk/help”
This is not a sponsored post, a copy of chatting with children was received for review purposes
Kate’s Top Tips for Chatting with Children aged 3-5 years old
• Be quiet Take time to talk to each other in a quiet room. Turn off the TV and radio, and shut the door to block out any other background noises. Children have to learn to block out background noises, so they need a quiet environment to focus on the sounds they hear.
• Be face-to-face Help young children to see your face – make sure you’re at the same level as them. Sit or crouch opposite them as they play, or sit them on your lap. Sit opposite the child so you’re face-to-face with them. Being face-to-face means that the child can see you and your facial expressions. Also, you can see them and their responses and reactions to the games you play together or the conversations you are having.
• Don’t rush – take plenty of time Young children take longer than adults to process what they hear – sometimes up to 12 seconds. They need plenty of time to respond to you.
• Be patient Young children can easily lose interest in what you’re doing – this is perfectly normal, especially for 3-year-olds. Don’t worry – just stop the game that you’re playing together and try again another time.
• Be prepared for anything Follow the child’s lead and adapt the game or conversation to fit in with what they’re doing. This can help maintain attention on particular games.
• Ditch the dummy A dummy gets in the way of attempts to talk during conversations and games. Children of 3 and over don’t need to use a dummy.
• Use the language you naturally use at home It’s important that you speak naturally to young children; this helps develop their language skills.
• Enjoy it This is a special time together, so have fun playing, chatting and learning about each other.
Chatting with Children, a new activity pack for adults to help develop communication skills in children aged 3-5 is available from I CAN www.ican.org.uk/bookshop