School holidays are looming and with it the dilemma on how to entertain your child. Thoughts of children slouching around in front of the TV all day whilst parents are still at work dredges up mixed feelings of relief and trepidation:
At least they’ll be entertained and kept out of mischief but we know that too much TV cannot be a good thing.
The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development.
As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family.
But TV does not have to be the evil electronic monster turning our babies, toddlers and children into a generation of square-eyed ‘blobs’. Research has shown that not only is television (with controlled and limited screen time) good for kids – it actually makes them smarter.
Here is how:
1. Watch TV with your child
- Watching TV with your kids allows parents to get a check the content of what they are viewing and allows parents to provide input, guidance and perspective on what they are seeing.
- Children who watch educational programs in the company of caregivers actually learn more from the material than children who view without co-viewing caregivers. Why? Children pay more attention to the TV, and view the material as more important, when a parent/caregiver watches with them.
2. TV can help kids learn about a variety of subjects
- If there’s a subject your child enjoys, more likely than not, there is a TV show, movie, or educational DVD or You-Tube clip that explores the subject in detail. You might be even be surprised to find out how many kids watch and love educational shows aimed at adults – “Masterchef” and “Who wants to be a Millionaire come to mind.
- Most children are not able to visit the rain forest or see a giraffe in the wild, but many have seen these things on TV.
3. TV can help build analytical thinking skills
- Asking questions such as “What do you think will happen next?” “Who did it?” “What will the result be?” “What could that character have done instead?” will help children learn to think, problem solve, and predict, making TV viewing a more active experience
- Compare and contrast: Develop these skills by comparing characters in movies, sitcoms, or even reality shows.
4. Use TV and movies to motivate children to read books.
- Many of the movies and TV programmes are based on books. Encourage children to read the book or read the book with younger children and then allow them to see the movie. Discussions comparing and contrasting the book and the movie will facilitate language development and thinking skills.
5. Discuss Advertising
- Young children often do not understand the difference between the TV programme and an advert. It is import to discuss the role and purpose of advertising. Thinking skills and creative skills can be developed in older children by discussing and analyzing the methods that advertisers use.
6. Good role models and examples on TV can positively influence children & teach social skills.
- Children are influenced by people they see on television, especially other kids. Obviously, this can have a negative result, but it can be positive too. As kids see their favorite characters making positive choices, they will be influenced in a good way. Parents can also point out positive traits that characters display and thereby spark valuable family discussions
- When children of the same age all watch the same programme, they talk and recreate parts of that programme in their play. This is important for group inclusion as well as the development of social narratives.
7. TV shows can inspire kids to try new activities and engage in learning.
- Children enjoy learning activities more if it involves their favorite characters. TV characters can be very motivating especially for younger children.
We live in a rich media environment with so much choice and whilst the web is very open, it is much easier to control what is suitable for children to watch on TV and how much time they spend watching.
So, sure, you may want to throw up when you hear the theme song to Barney, Dora Explorer or Ben 10 yet again!
But maybe you don’t need to feel so guilty about it. 😳
A lisp is a relatively common speech disorder in which a person has trouble pronouncing the sounds of the letters “s” and “z.” The toddler that says “pleathe” is really cute, but how do you decide when the lisp is no longer cute?
And why on earth does the word “lisp” contain an /s/? 😛
There are a number of factors to consider:
Type of lisp
- Interdental/frontal lisp: The tongue protrudes out through the teeth and the /s/ and /z/ sounds will then sound more like a “th” sound
- Dentalized lisp: This is when the /s/ and /z/ sounds are produced with the tongue actually touching or pushing up against the front teeth.
It is a perfectly normal developmental phase for some (but not all) children to lisp until they are about 4½ years old.
However the following types of lisps are usually NOT developmental and will usually require intervention
- Lateral lisp: This lisp is often referred to as “slushy.” A lateral lisp occurs when the tongue tip is in a similar position to make the /l/ sound, but the air flow, instead of being directed forward and out of the oral cavity, escapes out and over the sides of the tongue.
- Palatal lisp: A palatal lisp results when “the mid section of the tongue comes in contact with the soft palate, quite far back. If you try to produce…an “h” closely followed by a “y” and prolong it, you more or less have the sound” (Caroline Bowen)
A tongue thrust is likely to result in an interdental or dentalised lisp that does not self correct.
What is a tongue Thrust?
All babies have a tongue thrust or reverse swallow. When the baby swallows, his tongue pushes forward toward his gums or front teeth. For example when feeding a baby pureed food. The baby’s tongue pushes forward, pushing some of the food back out of his mouth. The adult scoops the food off his lips and face with the spoon and puts it back in his mouth and the cycle continues. As babies mature, they learn, not only to keep their lips closed when they swallow, but to effectively move the food back toward the throat with a more mature swallow.
In the mature swallow, the tongue tip is held on the alveolar (gum) ridge behind the top front teeth and the tongue efficiently moves the food backward with a rolling motion.
Children should have a normal, adult swallow by the time they are 7 years old.
What causes Tongue Thrust?
- Thumb sucking and/or nail biting
- Prolonged use of a dummy
- Prolonged use of Sippy Cups
- Mouth breathing
- Premature loss of “baby” teeth
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Hereditary factors
- Enlarged tonsils & adenoids
What are some signs of having a tongue thrust problem?
One or more of the following conditions may indicate that there is a tongue thrust and should be further investigated by a speech therapist.
- Tongue protruding between or against the upper and/or lower “front teeth” when forming /s/, /z/, /t/, /d/, /n/. The /j/, /ch/ and /sh/ sounds may also be affected.
- Response to traditional speech therapy poor.
- Frequent open-mouth resting posture with the lips parted and/or the tongue resting against the upper and/or lower teeth
- Protrusion and/or “splaying” of front teeth.
- Lips that is often cracked, chapped, and sore from frequent licking
- Frequent mouth breathing in the absence of allergies or nasal congestion
Treatment of a tongue thrust requires breaking a habit that has been ingrained! It requires dedication and practice. For this reason, I would advise waiting until the child is around 7 years old.
Remediation of a functional articulation error of the /s/ and /z/ sound can be done at an earlier age.
Good readers employ strategies before, during, and after reading that help them comprehend text. As I mentioned in my last post “Causes of reading comprehension difficulties,” struggling readers do not understand why they have difficulty comprehending.
There is however, no definitive set of strategies for remediation of reading comprehension difficulties and identification of where comprehension is breaking down will assist in employing the correct strategy to facilitate Reading Comprehension.
In addition to employing reading comprehension strategies, it is important to implement the following:
Provide the Right Kind of Books
One of the most important aspects of facilitating Reading Comprehension is reading fluency. A child should be able to recognize at least 90 percent of the words without any help. Stopping any more often than that to try and decode a word makes it difficult to focus on the overall meaning of the story.
Reading activities can be divided into three categories, depending on when they take place:
A. Pre-Reading Strategies
i. SIGHT WORDS:
Improve Sight Word Vocabulary and consequently, Reading Comprehension
ii. ENRICHMENT & VOCABULARY:
The child is engaged in enrichment activities prior to reading the passage. In this way, students have the opportunity to activate and enhance existing knowledge before reading. Pre-teaching vocabulary words will also enhance comprehension.
iii. STORY GRAMMAR TRAINING :
From a very young age, most children are exposed to story books. These fictional texts (narratives) share a common, predictable structure called story grammar. This predictable structure enhances students’ comprehension whether they listen to the narrative or read it themselves. Improve Reading Comprehension by providing a framework for learning and remembering information.
Teaching story grammar structure emphasizes the importance of metacognitive or active reading strategies to improve comprehension. It directs students’ attention on story structure by teaching them to ask five “wh” questions about the settings and episodes of the story.
iv. PREVIEW COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:
Encourage the child to preview comprehension questions. This will allow the child to focus on answering those questions as they read.
i. REREAD TO BUILD FLUENCY
By the end of Grade two a child should be able to read approximately 90 words a minute. Rereading familiar, simple books gives your child practice at decoding words quickly and facilitates fluency. The optimal number of readings has been found to be four.
ii. GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS
Graphic organizers, which provide a visual map for the reader, can be placed next to the text as learners read in groups or individually, aloud or silently. They are particularly useful in helping readers to understand the structure of a narrative or of an argument.
Graphic organizers also assist in encouraging visualization of information which also assists with comprehension.
Links to a variety of free graphic organizers can be found here: http://www.dailyteachingtools.com/free-graphic-organizers-w.html
iii. K-W-L STRATEGY
The K-W-L strategy stands for what I Know, what I Want to learn, and what I did Learn. By activating students’ background knowledge, it improves comprehension of expository text. (Expository text refers to writing where the purpose is to inform, describe, explain, or define the author’s subject to the reader)
iv. QUESTION-ANSWER RELATIONSHIPS
Increase correct answers to reading comprehension questions by considering both the text and the background knowledge. The question-answer relationships strategy helps students label the type of questions that are asked and to use this information to develop their answers.
“Right There” Label:
Words used to create the question and words used for the answer are Right There in the same sentence.
“Think and Search” Label:
The answer is in the text, but words used to create the question and those used for an appropriate answer would not be in the same sentence. They come from different parts of the text.
“On My Own” Label:
The answer is not found in the text. You can even answer the question without reading the text by using your own experience
Based on the questions, it is important to encourage the child to think about what they know and make predictions based on what they know and what they have read.
v. GENERATING QUESTIONS:
By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.
C. Post Reading
i. STORY RETELLING
Improve Reading Comprehension by retelling a story to partners, using outlines. By retelling students relate information from the story to their own experiences. In this way, they improve their reading comprehension and memory of story information.
ii. PARAPHRASING AND/OR SUMMARIZING
Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:
- Identify or generate main ideas
- Connect the main or central ideas
- Eliminate unnecessary information
- Remember what they have read
Poor comprehenders do not necessarily have a comprehension impairment that is specific to reading. Rather, their difficulties with reading comprehension need to be seen in the context of difficulties with language comprehension more generally
Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies can be an effective intervention for these difficulties and impact significantly on later academic success.
Struggling readers do not understand why they have difficulty comprehending. In order to assist these children we need to understand why and where their difficulties are occurring. (For the purposes of this discussion I am assuming the child’s visual perceptual skills are intact.)
A breakdown in Reading Comprehension can occur at different stages in the processing of language
Vocabulary and Prior Knowledge
Learning to read written texts is not the same as learning to understand written texts. Reading comprehension involves understanding the vocabulary, seeing relationships among words and concepts, organizing ideas, recognizing the author’s purpose, evaluating the context, and making judgments
Many children who successfully learn to read in grade one or two are unable to understand books they need to read by grade three or four. One of the reasons for this is lack of adequate vocabulary.
Prior knowledge is an important aspect to successful reading and studies have shown that lack of cultural familiarity with the subject matter has a greater impact on reading comprehension of a passage than the pre-teaching of vocabulary.
The child’s ability to recall information and make inferences is enhanced when they are familiar with the subject matter.
Before children learn to read, they are dependent on oral language and pictures to understand the world around them. Once they obtain knowledge of phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters), they begin to use their understanding of print and sounds to read words. For children who experience decoding difficulties, word recognition is like a traffic jam on a highway. Regardless of their level of listening comprehension, they have to learn the process of word recognition, much like every car on the highway must slow down and pass through the bottleneck. Once decoding is mastered, and students become fluent readers, they are able to develop proficiency in reading comprehension.
Fluency is not an issue in listening, as the speaker controls the pace, but is needed for reading comprehension because of working memory constraints.
For children who experience difficulties with word recognition, struggle with decoding words, or read very slowly, the information in the text is often inaccessible.
Reading quickly enough so that it sounds like “natural” language contributes to a student’s comprehension; the reading flow and focus on comprehension are not disrupted by decoding
Cognitive Speed/Working Memory
The information that we read needs to be held in working memory in order to comprehend it. If reading fluency is poor, then it becomes less and less likely that the needed information is still active in working memory, making comprehension less and less likely
There are many different purposes for reading. Sometimes you read a text to learn material, sometimes you read for pure pleasure, and sometimes you need to follow a set of directions. As a student, much of your reading will be to learn assigned material. You get information from everything you read and yet you don’t read everything for the same reason or in the same way or at the same rate. Each purpose or reason for reading requires a different reading approach.
Two things that influence how fast and how well you read are the characteristics of the text and the characteristics of you, the reader.
Characteristics of the text:
- Size and style of the type (font)
- Pictures and illustrations
- Author’s writing style and personal perspectives
- Difficulty of the ideas presented
Characteristics of the reader:
- Background knowledge (how much you already know about the material or related concepts)
- Reading ability – vocabulary and comprehension
Good readers employ strategies before, during, and after reading that help them comprehend text. The following strategies have been identified:
- Begin reading with an understanding of the purpose for their exploration of the text,
- Bring to the table what they already know (their schema), and associate what they read to that basis,
- Predict before they read and then adjust as necessary their predictions as they move through the text
- Self-monitor (listen to themselves when they read) and stop to reread when they recognize that they are losing meaning
- Have a broad oral toolbox of vocabulary (words they understand the meaning of when they hear them or when they use them in speech)
- Pause to ponder and consider (think deeply, in other words, analyze, interpret and evaluate).
Reading comprehension is a complex process in itself, but it also depends upon other important and complex lower-level processes. It is a critical foundation skill for later academic learning, many employment skills, and life satisfaction. It is an important skill to target, but we should not forget about the skills on which it depends.
Reading comprehension is one of the pillars of the act of reading. When a person reads a text he engages in a complex array of cognitive processes. He is simultaneously using his awareness and understanding of phonemes (individual sound “pieces” in language), phonics (connection between letters and sounds and the relationship between sounds, letters and words) and ability to comprehend or construct meaning from the text.
This last component of the act of reading is reading comprehension. It cannot occur independent of the other two elements of the process. At the same time, it is the most difficult and most important of the three
Reading comprehension should not be confused with “reading ability”. Reading ability, as it is commonly understood, means the ability to read the words on a page, but does not necessarily mean that what is read is understood. Being able to “decode” or to read words on a page is an essential part of reading, but can often be misleading, as some children are able to read words with great accuracy and sound very much like “adults,” but are unaware of the meaning attached to the sounds they have produced.
Reading fluency (the ability to recognize words quickly and effortlessly) plays an important role in reading comprehension because if word recognition is difficult, the child will use too much of his processing capacity reading individual word and this in turn interferes with the ability to comprehend what is read.
“Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”
This sentence created by Noam Chomsky in 1957 is grammatically and syntactically correct. Whilst you may be able to read and understand each of the words individually, this nonsense sentence demonstrates the difference between being able to read words and comprehend text.
As practiced readers we may take this distinction for granted since the acts of reading and comprehension occur almost simultaneously for us. For developing readers this relationship is not as apparent, but is essential for them to become strong, capable readers.
Reading comprehension is defined as the level of understanding of a text message. This understanding comes from the interaction between the words that are written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text.
Reading Comprehension does not just happen; it requires effort. Readers must intentionally and purposefully work to create meaning from what they read.
There are four levels/stages of reading comprehension. These stages are not necessarily chronological or independent of the others, but do vary in degree of cognitive difficulty (or, in other words, in how much “thinking power” is needed).
The four stages are:
- Analysis & Evaluation
This refers to the ability to understand what is being read. This requires that the child understands the subject matter and the language used to convey it. As social creatures, we often engage in story-telling practices in our homes and so the ability to understand a story is usually a naturally developing skill. Remembering, organizing and expressing this understanding (i.e., re-telling a story), however, is practiced and learned
– Drawing inferences
– Tapping into prior knowledge / experience
– Attaching new learning to old information
– Making logical leaps and educated guesses
– Reading between the lines to determine what is meant by what is stated.
This forces the student to build his or her understanding of the subject matter by using the facts presented to read between the lines for the true meaning of what was meant.
Asking questions like “Why do you think…?” or “Do you remember this from earlier in the story? Tell me about it…” encourages analytical thinking.
This level involves
– Understanding key themes or ideas
– Using ones understanding to analyze, and solve other texts and problems.
The child is required to apply what he has learned from reading to real life events or situations.
You can encourage this kind of interaction with texts by either asking your child what kind of connections they see (i.e., text to text, text to world, text to self, etc.) or by encouraging them to act based on the application they see.
This level is based on the student’s own feelings towards the material or author. It is considered more abstract than any of the other levels because personality, likes and dislikes can affect this level. Creation need not necessarily be writing an original story, but could include activities like creating a commercial, writing a play, writing a poem from the perspective of a character, etc.
Without comprehension, reading is nothing more than tracking symbols on a page with your eyes and sounding them out.
As their reading materials become more diverse and challenging, children need to learn new tools for comprehending these texts.
Content area materials such as textbooks and newspaper, magazine and journal articles pose different reading comprehension challenges for young people and thus require different comprehension strategies. The development of reading comprehension is a lifelong process that changes based on the depth and breadth of texts the person is reading.
It must be remembered that everyone has a learning style that is best suited to them. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. Nor are your styles fixed.
You can develop ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already use well.
Using multiple learning styles and multiple intelligences for learning is a relatively new approach. By recognizing and understanding your own learning styles, you can use techniques better suited to you.
There are three basic learning styles
Auditory Learners: Hear
Auditory learners would rather listen to things being explained than read about them. Reciting information out loud and having music in the background may be a common study method. Other noises may become a distraction resulting in a need for a relatively quiet place.
Visual Learners: See
Visual learners learn best by looking at graphics, watching a demonstration, or reading. For them, it’s easy to look at charts and graphs, but they may have difficulty focusing while listening to an explanation.
Kinesthetic Learners: Touch
Kinesthetic learners process information best through a “hands-on” experience. Actually doing an activity can be the easiest way for them to learn. Sitting still while studying may be difficult, but writing things down makes it easier to understand.
A previous post touched on some strategies to improve memory. In order to internalise these strategies and use them effectively, they must be practiced. Some fun activities which can be used are discussed below.
The activities are graded according to difficulty.
They gradually strengthen the child’s ability to focus on what is heard, to attend to detail and to discriminate different sounds.
The skills build on each other. Keep playing them until your child finds the games too easy or gets bored with them, then move on.
1. Singing in Your Head
Choose a children’s song with actions, such as “Incy Wincy Spider”, and join your child in singing the song – first out loud, then silently, in your heads, while still doing the actions. Do this with as many songs as you can. Try to ensure that the child is saying all the words and not just mumbling the words.
This helps a child develop internal rehearsal skills, which are helpful for short-term memory.
2. Tap Counting
Tap a pencil on a table, have the child tell you how many taps he heard. Start with three slow beats. Show how to count out loud along with the taps, then show how to count them silently, in your head. Take turns beating/giving answers. When child catches on, add more beats. Have him make taps while you count, too.
3. Rhythm Repeat
Tap or clap a short rhythm pattern for your child to repeat (such as – two slow claps, then two fast claps). When your child catches on, vary the timing and loudness of claps to make new rhythm patterns.
This game can be increased in difficulty by not allowing the child to watch you clapping.
Allow the child to be leader then purposely make a mistake to see if the child can retain his own pattern. Other materials can be used, such as a drum, pot, sticks, or tapping of a foot.
4. That’s Silly
Take turns making statements that have a silly mistake in them, such as “The dishwasher washes clothes”, or “Horses have four wheels”, or “The radio was too loud, so I turned it up”. You can play this as a game… or just do it randomly — for a humorous touch. (When it’s your child’s turn to make up a sentence, be sure to “miss” some of the mistakes to make it more fun).
5. Simon Says
This is the classic game where the person who is “It” calls out directions that must be followed. The player(s) must be careful to only comply when the directions are prefaced by the phrase “Simon Says”.
Not responding when directions are given requires a lot of impulse control, and your child may need another year before he or she is ready for that rule.
Try to include directions that involve both sides and the whole body, such as, “Touch your ear. Now, with the same hand, touch your other ear” “Use your right hand to touch your left knee”, “Stand like a teapot” (one hand on hip, other in the air), “Crawl like a puppy”, “Do 3 jumping jacks”. This engages the auditory and kinesthetic learning.
6. Telephone Number Game
Pretend you are calling your friend – what is her number? You can use a toy phone to add interest to this game. Take turns making up strings of numbers for the other to repeat.
A child should be able to remember about seven digits by the age of 7 years but if telephone numbers (containing 7 digits) are chunked into 3 parts then a 4 to 5 year old child should be able to recall it.
7. Number Songs
Attach melodies and rhythms to strings of numbers, then have your child repeat them. Try a cha-cha or a conga beat, the intro to Beethoven’s 5th, or the melodies from popular songs. Show your child how strings of numbers can be remembered more easily when associated with a catchy tune. Try the Telephone Number Game using this technique.
8. How Do You Spell?
If the child is old enough to write, then dictate words to them, giving them the spelling in groups of letters. Begin with two letters at a time. Instruct the child to repeat the letter silently (only in her head), after you say it, then write the letters. When the child can do this, move on to three letters at a time. Once again, chunking letters together will give the letters a pattern and help the child keep track of “where they are” in the word.
9. I went to Market and I bought…..
In this traditional game, the first person recites, “I went to market and bought myself a XXX,” (inserting an item of their choice.) The second person recites, “I went to market and bought myself a XXX and a YYY” (adding an item of their choice.) The game continues with each new person reciting the previous list before adding their choice of item.
Using visual imagery (often absurd images) assists with recall. Help the child initially to create the visual image and then encourage the child to start creating their own images.
10. The Name Game
This is a group activity to learn people’s names. Play it first with groups where the children are familiar with each other (so it won’t be too hard). Each person says their name, and something they like, such as “I am Michael, I like trains.” The next person must repeat what previous people have said, then add their own name and what they like. “Michael likes trains. I am Sarah, and I like playing the piano.” The next person will have to say, “Michael likes trains, Sarah likes piano. I am Zach, and I like soccer.”
This game is challenging for many children as it requires each child to come up with something unique about themselves.
Give the child a number of “forbidden” words (e.g. blue, round, rain). Then read a short passage or story that contains several of the “forbidden” words. The child has to “bleep” whenever they hear a “forbidden” word. This can be done at home when reading a bed-time story.
Start with only two or three “forbidden” words (or only one for younger children) then gradually increase the number of words to be remembered – and “bleeped”
Variation: Select a volunteer to be the “bleeper”.
Variation: Select a “forbidden” word (or more than one) that lasts throughout the whole day.
Challenge the child to remember a short sequence of (random) numbers – which they then have to recall in reverse order.
Starting sequences may contain only 3 or 4 numbers but pupils will soon be capable of recalling longer sequences.
Variation: Alternatively, you can use letters – or words – instead of numbers
This is by no means a comprehensive list:
These are simply some fun ideas to work on memory in a game.
There are a variety of Apps available to stimulate Auditory Memory and I will be looking at some of these in the coming weeks. 🙂