Looking for non-technology holiday gift ideas to build kids’ language and learning? Although there are certainly (way too) many tablets, video games, and internet-connected toys, there are many that are non-technology and high-quality that can build children’s language skills and promote learning and foster social interaction.
As the holidays approach, children fill their wish lists with items like tablets, video gaming consoles, smart watches, and even Internet-connected traditional toys such as dolls and teddy bears (advertised as being able to “converse” with kids). But—as I wrote in a blog post last year—audiologists and speech-language pathologists can take advantage of this time to help clients, family and friends find a technology balance and spread awareness about high-quality, off-line activities to help build children’s language skills and promote learning.
As always, children who use low- and high-tech augmentative and alternative communication devices (AAC) should continue to use them at all times—and in an interactive way.
Below are updated gift list suggestions for 2017, featuring more ideas for items that foster communication and social interaction:
- Mad Libs, word finds and crossword puzzles. Not only do these games build vocabulary and literacy skills while keeping kids of many ages entertained on winter days, but they also provide fun family activities. There often are “junior” editions available for new readers.
- Photo albums/scrapbooking materials. Many of us keep hundreds—if not thousands—of photos on our phone, but creating physical photo albums or scrapbooks provides an excellent opportunity to talk about family members, memories, family trips or events, and much more.
- Camping supplies. Whether used for real camping (another great opportunity to disconnect, talk and bond with kids) or pretend indoor play, items like tents, flashlights and sleeping bags make excellent gifts. Nothing gets the imagination and conversation going like a tent or fort in the living room. And basics such as making flashlight animals on the wall stand the test of time—even in a gadget-heavy world.
- Magazine subscriptions. Prices are down on most magazine subscriptions, and there are many high-quality publications specifically tailored for children (Highlights or National Geographic Kids, for example). Kids will be excited to get their own mail, and practice makes perfect when it comes to reading.
- Puppets or magic kits. These activities encourage creativity and help build language skills as children develop story lines and dialogues. Parents and siblings will also enjoy the free entertainment.
- Clay or Play-Doh. These items let kids get their hands dirty and help with fine-motor skills. They also help with language and learning. Children can talk about their creations and have conversations with different characters.
- Journal or diary. A fabulous gift for practicing writing skills and building literacy that’s appropriate for many different ages.
- Karaoke machine. An alternative to family movie night, this can bring the whole family together. And singing along to the words means kids practice reading, too!
- Building, science and engineering sets/tools. Family members can work on these activities together, talking, building vocabulary and problem-solving as they go along. These activities are more popular than ever.
- Bikes, trikes and scooters. Physical movement can be paired with language development opportunities. Kids can talk about what they see, hear, smell, feel and think about as they ride. These vehicles let kids get out, explore nature, their neighborhoods and the world around them—and are activities parents and kids can do together.
Whatever gifts parents choose—tech gifts included!—it’s always valuable to remember the importance of talking and interaction to children’s development. There’s no better time for conversation and family bonding than the holidays.
Diane Paul, PhD, CCC-SLP, is ASHA director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 4, Fluency and Fluency Disorders; and 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication. email@example.com.
As babies grow, they should also be developing communication skills, and parents should expect their child to hit certain milestones at certain ages. Read below to learn about those milestones and ways to support children’s development through daily reading.
For more than two decades, this perennial exhibition has reminded us that art making is for everyone and that art can play a healing role in our lives. I Have Marks to Make is an exhibition celebrating the therapeutic and rehabilitative aspects of art. The exhibition features work by participants of all ages from Telfair’s outreach to local organizations and from community partners.
Partners: Rehabilitation Hospital of Savannah; Coastal Center for Developmental Services, Inc.; St. Joseph’s/Candler Rehabilitation; Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools Department for Exceptional Children; the City of Savannah’s Therapeutics program; Savannah Speech and Hearing Center Stroke Survivors’ Group; the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision,Inc.; Department of Veterans Affairs Savannah Primary Care Clinic; Goodwill’s ADVANCE Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program; Park Place Outreach Inc.; and Ruth Byck Adult Daytime Care.
A Two-Way Street
For people with hearing loss, holiday gatherings can be exhausting work. But there’s a lot friends and family can do to reduce stress and frustration. Try these tips so that everyone can join the party.
1. Gain Attention
Don’t start talking before you know your companion is engaged. Address him or her by name, and if you can, position yourself on the side where the listener’s hearing is better and gently touch his or her hand, arm or shoulder to signal the start of a conversation.
2. Reduce Background Noise
Turn off the TV or radio. Don’t start talking while you’re already doing something noisy and distracting, such as emptying the dishwasher. If you’re in an office or other public place, look for a quiet corner where there’s less activity and noise.
3. Make Your Face Visible
Your facial expressions and body language add vital information for the listener, so position yourself opposite the listener at an optimum distance of 3 to 6 feet. If the room is dim, turn on another light. Cut down on gestures that involve touching your face.
4. Help With Lipreading
Hearing-impaired listeners need to see your mouth to best understand you. Don’t chew food or gum or smoke a cigarette while you’re talking. Be aware that beards and mustaches can hide your mouth. Make sure there isn’t a light directly behind your head.
5. Speak Naturally
Shouting can distort the sounds of words, so can overexaggerating your words. You can pick up the volume a little, but don’t overdo it. And speak at a normal pace — not too fast or too slow. If the listener needs extra time to process, try inserting pauses.
6. Rephrase Rather Than Repeat
If the listener doesn’t understand a word or phrase, find a different way to say what you want to communicate. Don’t simply repeat the same words. If someone with hearing loss walks in on a conversation you are having with someone else, take a minute to bring her or him up to speed.
7. Get the Group to Help
If you’re sitting down to a meal with others, the best place for the person with hearing loss is where he or she can see as many faces as possible — in your dining room, at the head of the table, in a restaurant, in a quiet corner. In any group, try not to talk over each other or carry on multiple conversations.
8. Check in
People with hearing loss may nod their heads as though they understand what you’ve said when, in fact, they did not. If you think your listener may not be following, ask if he or she understands and, if necessary, convey the information again in shorter, clearer sentences.
As we enter hurricane season, it’s important for all of us to have an emergency plan in place. It’s even more important for those with hearing loss. Please read the article below to learn more!
As a speech/language pathologist with Savannah Speech and Hearing, I found this article on self-advocacy tips for students that stutter very interesting and helpful. When someone who stutters self-advocates, their self-esteem, social skills and confidence only increase. Check out the article below to learn more! – Cathy Nelson
Did you know…you can redirect part of your Georgia state income tax to help a child who is deaf or hard of hearing receive auditory/oral intervention in an intensive preschool program at Sound Start – a program of Savannah Speech and Hearing Center.
Since 2009, Sound Start has received $92,294.97 in scholarship donations through Apogee. We have been able to make this program affordable for all children who need it.
Your redirection to the Apogee Scholarship Fund may qualify you for a 100% state income tax credit. You may also be able to claim a charitable contribution deduction on your federal income tax return.
The popularity of the GA School Choice Scholarship program has caught on and many more people are redirecting their tax dollars to benefit Georgia private schools. Last year, the cap of $58 million was met on January 1, 2017. Applications are now being accepted for 2018.
Please don’t wait. We need your help now! Click on the link below to start your application.
What a wonderful investment you are making in these children’s future
Dancing Dogs and West Elm have partnered and this Wednesday, May 10th from 7:30-8:30pm under the full moon they are offering a yoga class (suggested donation $10). A portion benefits Savannah Speech and Hearing Center!
Bring your mat downtown to West Elm!
“True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.” — Aadil Palkhivala
This event recognizes citizens who demonstrate excellence in community leadership through volunteerism. Awards will be given in each of the following categories:
Animal Advocacy, Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, and Human Services.
The Herschel V. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year Award will be selected from the overall winners in those five categories. The winner’s non-profit organization will be awarded $1,000 in honor of the winner.
A wonderful group of students from Armstrong State University were nominated for volunteering with the children at Sound Start. Ann Curry-Volunteer Coordinator, who was nominated for Volunteer Administration.
We are honored to be nominated for these awards and to proudly represent Savannah Speech and Hearing.
Savannah Speech and Hearing Center’s weekly Stroke Support Group has thrived under the guidance of 20 smart graduate students in the Communication Science and Disorders Program. For the past 10 weeks these amazing young women bring joy, laughter and community to the members of the Stroke Support Group. As always we are sad to see them go!
April Garrity writes:
Communication Help for Adults after Stroke (CHATS) is a service-learning experience in coordination with an existing community stroke survivors’ group at Savannah Speech and Hearing. Each week graduate students in the speech-language pathology program develop and facilitate weekly modules with the Stroke Group. These modules are designed to be fun and interactive, and typically focus on topics of functional communication for activities of daily living. Activities emphasize the use of any available functional communicative modality – including speaking, writing, drawing, and gesturing – in conversation. The goal is to provide a fun, supportive environment, in which group participants practice communication skills and build confidence in these skills.
April W. Garrity, PhD CCC-SLP
Associate Professor and Clinic Coordinator
Communication Sciences and Disorders Program
Armstrong State University