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We learn about language by listening to patterns and changes in the speech of others. Encouraging good listening skills will help your child throughout their language development. Listening to sounds and talking about sounds with your child will encourage them to focus on sounds and help with learning to link sounds with their cause. So how do we develop listening skills in young children? Try the following tips…
5 Tips for developing the listening skills of young children
1. Remove or reduce distractors. Don’t try to talk over the top of the TV, other voices or music. Turn down the volume of devices so you and your child can hear you speak . Getting their attention in the first instance is very important.
2. Encourage your child to look at you while you are talking. Having said this some children find eye contact uncomfortable so for these children, facing towards you is fine. Encouraging your child to show you with their body (e.g. eye gaze, body posture and orientation) that they are listening will make it easier for you to know that they are.
3. Encourage them to ask you questions. This allows both you and them to check for understanding. For the children who won’t ask, you can always prompt them to tell you what they thought you just said. This isn’t meant to be an interrogation though! Rather its a way of checking in.
4. Play listening games with your child. Remember the old “Chinese Whispers” game? Aside from fun, it’s a great way of sharpening up listening skills. Other activities where your child has to listen and follow instructions are also helpful e.g. cooking.
5. Praise, praise, praise. Learning to listen is a skill that everyone has to master. Some of us find it easier than others. It’s always good practice to praise a child when you see them doing something positive and helpful…just like listening.
What to do if those listening skills don’t appear to be switching on?
Children can struggle with listening for a range of reasons. It’s important to take note and seek advice. A conversation with a child health nurse, GP or early childhood teacher may be helpful in pointing you in the right direction. Speech Pathologists can also assess listening and the role that language development may play in any difficulties.
The Centre has three speech pathologists available who work on different days of the week. Please call reception on 9274 7062 for more information about our speech pathology services.
Georgina Klimaitis and Naomi Ward
Child Wellbeing Centre
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Aside from getting back into routine, going back to school is great time for children to reconnect with their friends. It’s also another year ahead of learning and fun. For some children the transition back into school can be challenging. Rather than leave that transition to the night before, there is quite a bit that you can do right now to help with getting your child ready.
5 Tips for getting ready for school
If you haven’t already started, this week is the time to start focusing on getting everyone ready for school again. How can you prepare?
- Sit down and plan out with your children what you will need to do to prepare for school. Create a checklist and timetable of all the steps that are required. This helps reduce any feelings of overwhelm to something more manageable.
- Talk about the good things that are likely to happen when your child is back at school. The start of the school year is a time to make new friends and meet new teachers. There’s also lots of cool stuff to learn about.
- Adjust sleep times. During holidays most children tend to go to bed later than they would on a school night and sleep in later. Starting to adjust sleep times gradually before school starts is likely to be more effective then suddenly demanding that your child be asleep at their usual time the night before school starts!
- For younger children, do a walk around school showing them where their class will be, how to find the toilets and where school drop-offs and pick-ups will be and
- Celebrate back to school with a party or special event. Include one of their friends or classmates for school to make the occasion that little bit more special.
What about the anxious child?
Some children become very worried at the start of the new school year, often imaging the worst is about to happen. As parents, it’s important that we acknowledge those worries. Telling someone not to worry seldom works! Instead the focus on coping strategies and helping the child find things to help them manage these worries.
For some children, rehearsal strategies like social stories are really helpful. They explain what is going to happen and can reassure the child that things will be fine.
For other children, finding gentle ways to challenge their worry thoughts is what’s needed. For example, reminding them of all the other times they were worried and good things happened.
Being a little worried about going back to school is perfectly normal. However if you feel your child is “too worried” then our psychology team is there to help with strategies to help children back into school. Please call reception on 9274 7062 for more information about our services.
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When working with children, therapists often have to prepare for the unexpected! The following is a story about an experience with a client and shows just how important praise can be to children.
With ABA with children, we sometimes need kids to practice their skills in the real world or the “natural environment”. With the particular child in this story, the aim was to go to the shops to get some fruits and veggies with the child’s parent (without walking down the lollies aisle and purchasing a bag of lollies!). Normally a trip like this would result in lots of nagging behaviour (e.g. I want lollies!) and often with tears streaking down the child’s face. Shopping was a stressful experience for the parent too!
Little did I know that in this shop, the fruits and veggies section was situated right next to a stand filled with all sorts of lollies! As we moved towards the veggies section (realising that there were lollies in sight), the first line the child uttered was “Can we please get a bag of chocolate? I really want to have it.” Fortunately, the parent and I had talked before hand and decided to ignore such requests should they come up. The plan instead was to redirect the child’s attention to the task at hand by asking which fruit the parent should buy. And in this instance, the child in our story was successfully redirected to the task at hand.
In total, we managed to spend a good 5 minutes within the fruit and veggie section without walking out with a bag of lollies. While this may not sound like a big deal…for this child (and their parent) it was huge!
While we were walking away from the shop, I couldn’t stop singing the praises of the child to the parent as the child’s performance exceeded our expectations. It didn’t take long before I started hearing loud giggles behind us.
As we turned around, we were greeted with the widest grin ever. Turns out that the child overheard our conversation and couldn’t stop giggling with happiness.
Moral of the story? Do not forget to praise your child for good behaviour. Provide them with lots of attention whenever they’re not engaging in challenging behaviour (in this case nagging for lollies). Praise is very important to some children and it also feels nice as a therapist or parent when you have a good reason to do so!
Assistant Program Manager, ABACAS
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Children develop language through watching, listening and practice. Singing to young children can help them develop early language and literacy skills, such as phonological awareness, auditory discrimination, and vocabulary development. Its no coincidence that young children are drawn to activities with music, rhythm and repetition….all of these elements can help young children learn.
Music doesn’t have to be limited to watching the TV or listening to the radio. We can create music anytime and anywhere. In addition to singing well known nursery rhymes and children’s songs, why not make up your own?
Typically when children are very young, you will need to take the lead…providing the music and words, and helping your child do the motions to the songs. After many, many, many repetitions, you can encourage your child to take charge and lead the interaction. In other words, you follow their lead.
Some Tips for Singing With Your Child
- Don’t worry if you don’t sound great, children will respond to the rhythm of your speech, and the love and affection with which you sing. The most important thing is to sing slowly and clearly.
- Use lots of actions with your songs, as this encourages your child to imitate. Remember imitation of actions often comes first, with the words coming later.
- Make up words to familiar tunes so your songs have more meaning for your child. You can put your child’s name in the song to personalize it.
- Make use of pausing. For your children this will help them learn to anticipate, for older children it will give them the chance to fill in the missing word or action. For example “open shut them, open shut them, give a little ……..”
- Make up simple songs (borrowing tunes if need be) for house routines. Not only are you teaching language, you building up helpful routines.
And if you have worries about language development…
Check in with your child nurse, GP or a speech pathologist. Children develop language at different rates. It’s not about who gets there first, more whether they are meeting milestones around the expected time.
The Child Wellbeing Centre has three speech pathologists available for consultation working on different days of the week. Please contact our reception for further information.
ABACAS Team / Psychologists
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January is often thought of as a quiet month but not at the Child Wellbeing Centre! It’s our second week back in January and it feels like we have hit the ground running!
We have two new and one returning team member to tell you about.
Toni Schmitz (Behaviour Therapist and Provisional Psychologist)
Toni came to us last year as a Curtin University student on placement. She did such a great job with the children that she worked with that she got a job offer! In her paid role with us this year, Toni will be working as a Behaviour Therapist and Provisional Psychologist on different days of the week. Toni will starting off first learning the ropes as a Junior Behaviour Therapist and picking up a psychology case load towards the end of February. She will be available to work with the families she saw as a student last year.
Penny Ya Fen Wong (Senior Behaviour Therapist)
Penny joins the ABACAS team as a Senior Behaviour Therapist. She will be working with individual families providing therapy and be available for parent and school behavioural consultancy. Penny has over 15 years experience in working with ABA programs and a broad range of experience with children with disabilities, developmental delay and learning difficulties. We’re also hoping that Penny will also have her application for provisional registration as a psychologist approved so she is able to provide psychological consultancy services.
Simone Lombardo (Psychologist)
After having some parental leave last year, Simone returns to the Centre in early February on Saturdays. As a psychologist, Simone has a broad range of experience in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She also has a an interest in working with children presenting with social and emotional difficulties. Simone will be be available to see old and new clients. We’re really looking forward to Simone join the Saturday team of psychologists again.
We still have a few more staffing changes to tell you about. The Centre is currently recruiting another psychologist and we are also in the process of appointing a casual receptionist. I hope to have some news about both of those changes in the near future.
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Just a short note to let you know that the office is now open.
With the exception of public holidays, office hours will be back to normal (Mon to Sat, 9am to 5pm).
We’re looking forward to catching up with all of our clients and hearing about your holiday so far.