{Speech & Your Child} Red Flags Parents Often Ignore

education, elementary school, people, childhood and emotions concept - sad or bored little student girl over green chalk board background

As a parent, your life is riddled with fear and guilt.

It’s an inevitable part of navigating parenthood. While these feelings remain with most of us in some form, it fades as you see your children grow up with joy and confidence. But when your child is frustrated and struggling, coming home in tears and tantrums, the dial turns way up.

This happened to us when our daughter was just 2 years old. She was in school and progressing beautifully – however, her growth developed a tinge of frustration here and there both at school and at home. My husband and I noticed that she became frustrated at times if we could not understand her, often breaking down in tears and inconsolable for large chunks of time. As new parents, we chalked this up to her navigating socializing with peers and thought it was a stage. Below are the major red flags that we ignored for an entire year before we decided to finally seek help:

  1. Developmental Milestones. Children develop at their own pace, this should be foremost in every parent’s mind. But this mentality gave us tunnel vision in regard to our daughter’s developmental milestones. We shrugged off her teacher’s warning about her inability to string words together into sentences, or formulate the correct speech sounds. “All kids are different. We can’t immediately swoop in at every little nuance.” This is what we told ourselves, not knowing that we were digging that hole even deeper.
  2. Social Interactions. As our daughter started to become more social and play with her friends, her teachers noticed she was not using her words to communicate with them. We did not notice this, as we only saw the interaction, not the communication. This, we feel, had the biggest impact on her confidence. And this particular red flag was what finally made us pay attention. She started to become more secluded. Participating in mostly parallel play rather than trying to test out her speech with her peers. She became so distraught when someone could not understand her that she stopped trying to communicate verbally altogether.
  3. Academic difficulties. Her confidence in communicating was severely impaired and it started a domino effect with her academic life. Her teachers were not able to properly assess her speech thoroughly. While bright and eager to learn, she was always hesitant to participate because she was not confident people would understand her. What really clued in her teacher was when she watched our daughter sing her ABCs and she could hear the sounds that were missing and see how she was positioning her tongue when formulating those sounds. Big clues. Clueless parents. 

It was red flag #2 that finally made us listen and hear her teachers and not write off their fears as overly conservative perceptions.

Our daughter has been in speech therapy now for almost 2 years and she is simply thriving. She is a different little girl than she was last year – the progression has been simply stunning. Her teachers are amazed and her social and academic life shows it. She communicates with confidence now and does not hesitate to interact with anyone. She still has another year to go to fully get her back on track, but I am one happy mama knowing that her speech development will not be impeded.

As our daughter’s speech therapist says, the reasons children need therapy are varied and sometimes random or even genetic. I urge you from one parent to another to not ignore these red flags in your child. Depending on your location and your child’s age, your school district will offer speech therapy services free of charge. But the sooner you catch it, the sooner your child can get back on track to living a happy and confident life.


 

This post was written by an ELCM Parent
If you have questions about speech and your child’s development, reach out to your child’s teacher or leave your comments below! We are happy to point you in the right direction. Help is closer than you think.

Confessions of a School Librarian

Cute pupils and teacher lying on floor in library at the elementary school

There is a certain magic about being a librarian!

We enjoy the privilege of watching as a child’s world opens up in front of them with every story they hear, every word they read, and every book they devour. Children ages 3-5 years old who are read to at least three times a week are two times more likely to recognize all letters, have word-sight recognition, and understand words in context. Early literacy efforts are proven to help in shaping a child’s future, and it is easier than one thinks to make sure your child reaps all the benefits.

There are five simple things you need to do to help:

  1. Write
  2. Talk
  3. Sing
  4. Play
  5. Read

Every day, if you can make room for even one of these activities, you are helping your child gain literacy skills that will stay with them throughout their life. When Miss Tanya sings songs with her toddlers in Little Listeners, she is helping to bring awareness to the words, highlighting each sound and syllable.

When Miss Trina encourages a school-age child to tell her why she loves the book she just picked out, she is helping to expand her vocabulary and learn to express her ideas. When I play memory games with my preschoolers in Storytime Stars, I am helping to develop their understanding of our world.

It’s as simple as talking with your child about the book you are reading, asking questions about the picture and having them guess what happens next. Singing the ABC song, letting them have time to scribble with a crayon, making a simple craft. These activities don’t take a lot of time and can happen naturally throughout the day. All of these activities will help develop your child as a reader.

Children between the ages of two and six learn an average of ten new words a day. That is seventy words a week! Reading to your child can only help introduce them to new words, strengthening their vocabulary and therefore improving their educational future. All of the storytimes here at the Wadleigh Memorial Library model these five skills. We’d love to see you at one of our storytimes. They are divided up by age, so they are tailored to that specific group developmentally. Sing, dance, have fun. We hope that you will leave with some new ideas for engaging with your kids and reading. And books. You should most definitely leave with some books.

Post written by:
Letty Goerner
Head of the Children’s Department
Wadleigh Memorial Library

Speech & Your Child: Tips from an Expert

Young Smart Boy Kid Reading 3D Green Open Book Education ConceptFrom their first smile, to their first words, their growing independence (“no!”), to their seemingly endless quest to know more (“why?”), to sharing a silly knock-knock joke…a child’s ability to communicate goes through many stages in the first years of life.

As we celebrate each new milestone, it is easy to take for granted the development of such an important skill. Although the stages that children pass through in the development of speech and language are consistent, the exact age when they hit these milestones varies greatly.

When communication milestones seem late or when a child has difficulty communicating, it can be difficult for parents to know whether their child is just a late bloomer or if they have a speech or language problem. A speech or language problem can have a significant effect on the child’s social and academic skills and behavior. The earlier a child’s speech and language problems are identified and treated, the less likely it is that problems will persist or get worse.

What can I do if I am concerned about my child’s speech and language development?

  • Use resources such as those below from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to learn about typical communication developmental milestones.
  • Discuss your concerns with other adults involved with your child’s care – family members, daycare/preschool teachers, and your pediatrician/family physician. Do they have similar concerns?
  • Bring your child to a local “Child Find” or Preschool Screening.*
  • Seek an evaluation from an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist within a private practice or affiliated with a hospital. You can obtain a referral from your pediatrician or do an online search.

For more resources, check out the following pages on ASHA’s website:

*Milford Residents 3-5 years of age who are not currently enrolled in our public school system are eligible to attend a Preschool Screening at Jacques Memorial School. These are being held three times per year – December, February, and April. To book an appointment for April 15, 2015 call 673-6709.

 

Blog written by:

Beth Girard, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Jacques Memorial School
Milford, NH

Academics vs. Play… why not both!

academics-v-playWhen giving tours at ELCM, I am often asked “Are you more academic or play-based?”  I must admit I find this to be the most difficult question to answer.  If I respond with the importance of preparing children academically for the rigor of first grade, I feel I am misrepresenting the young child by denying the importance of play.  If I respond with my belief that the young child learns through play, then I am misrepresenting the importance of preparing the child with the academic skill set needed to be successful in first grade.  How do I explain to a perspective ELCM parent their child will love school and will thrive in the academic arena with the right type of play combined with a developmentally appropriate learning time.

Setting up a classroom is a very methodical process.  There must be the right balance of purposeful play and teacher directed learning.  At ELCM, every center created within the classroom has a purpose and a role in the child’s learning. Here is an outline of the “Play Centers” you will find in our all of our classrooms.

Our MATH centers are designed with brightly colored thematic objects to catch the playful eye of the child.  These hands-on objects lend themselves to sorting, graphing, patterning, and the discovery of symmetry.  What the children do not realize as they are “playing” is they are learning mathematical concepts. Also the manipulative nature of the math materials help develop small muscles and build skills they will need in higher grades.

Our DRAWING and WRITING centers are fill with markers, crayons and assorted paper.  It is in this center children are developing organizational skills, along with pencil control and printing skills.  It is also allows for creativity and for expressing one’s imagination with pen and paper.  Drawing and Writing are important steps into the writing and reading process.

Our BLOCK centers are filled with blocks of various shapes and sizes.  This tends to be the most popular spot in the classroom.  A great deal of organizing and planning, not to mention cooperative play takes place here. It is said that our future architects and city planners play here!

Our DRAMATIC PLAY centers are filled with items where children can role- play important futures career opportunities such a doctor, a veterinarian, a police officer, a mail carrier or more importantly a mommy or a daddy.

Our SCIENCE centers bring the world around us into the classroom.  They are free exploring and allow the children to experiment and discover with various mediums.  Many skills are taught through exploration and the self-discovery of making predictions and watching outcomes help to make confident learners.

Our ART centers are filled with various paints, play dough, glitter, glue etc.  This is the center to express oneself creatively and to build confidence in using all school tools such as scissors, paint, and glue.  The young child is naturally drawn to the love of art; and so we feed that love.

Our GAME centers are extremely important in teaching life skills about cooperation, how to wait your turn and the most valuable lesson of all, how to be a good winner and a good loser.

Our PLAYGROUND is as important as our classrooms.  Exercise is unmistakably important for the mind, body and spirit.  When children use their large muscles, they release energy and oxygenate the brain.  Social scenarios occur as children swing, slide, climb, dig and use construction vehicles.  Not to mention, being outside is just fun!

I agree that teacher-directed learning has its place in the early childhood curriculum, but what if you watch or listen to the young child, if play they want and play they need.  So I say to parents and teachers alike; remember, ” Play is a child’s work” and know that at ELCM our “play centers” are so much more than what meets the eye.

-Authored by Deb Winslow

 ELCM Owner / Teacher

Thankful at ELCM

thankfulThankful.

An adjective defined as: glad that something has happened or not happened, that something or someone exists; of, relating to, or expressing thanks. The children at ELCM have been engaged in discussions about being thankful and showing thanksgiving or gratitude. They have been learning about the upcoming holiday and what significance it has in our own lives today. I took the opportunity while being in and out of the preschool, pre-k and kindergarten classrooms to interview some students about what they are thankful for, the answers are genuine, endearing and often reflect what is in the forefront of these young children’s minds.

I am thankful for:

  • Aria: People that we love and popsicles when I have a sore throat
  • Isabel: Carving pumpkins
  • Danny: Memere and Pepere giving me toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Olivia: Pets like horses, dogs and cats
  • Harper: When my Nana and Pops get me money and when my grandfather takes me to Dunkin Donuts
  • Caidence: Daddy letting me eat popsicles and candy
  • Sammy: When my family took me to Disneyworld
  • Emma: For hugging people
  • Eli: Thanksgiving
  • Ella: A house to live in, fruit and accessories
  • Marek: The food store so we don’t have to grow all our food
  • Hayden: Everyone getting me toys
  • Caroline: Nothing bad getting us and that the war saved us
  • Libby: My family and that we have food and toys and clothes to protect us
  • Ari: Having food and a house
  • Brielle: The sun keeping us warm and light, we have family to protect us like our dads and stuff to draw and paint with
  • Cole: Going outside
  • Connor: Lunch
  • Reid: Snack
  • Addison: Being Doc McStuffins
  • Cam: Blocks
  • Wes: Lunch
  • Vera: The loft airport
  • Austin: Momma

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

Chocolate Isn’t Evil!

halloween candyDid you know chocolate is one of the best candy choices? With Halloween right around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to talk about what’s good for your child’s teeth and promote oral health. After trick-or-treating, sort your child’s candy. Throw out anything ripped or if it appears that it has been tampered with. Allow your child to eat candy in moderation in order to avoid stomachaches and cavities. Teeth have an increase rate of cavities the longer and more frequent they are exposed to sugar.  Below is a list of the best and worst candy for your child’s teeth.

  • Chocolate quickly dissolves in your mouth, which means your teeth will be in less contact with the sugar. But be aware of chocolates that are filled with caramel or nuts, they are harder to chew and potentially harmful to your teeth.
  • Powdery candy, like Pixy Stix and Fun Dip, are not as bad as other candies because they dissolve quickly preventing the sugar from sticking to your teeth.
  • Hard candy, like lollipops and Runts, are NOT good for your teeth because they are sucked on at a leisurely pace; this allows the teeth to be coated with sugar. Teeth can also chip or break when biting down on hard candy.
  • Chewy candy, like gummies or caramels, are the WORST for your teeth; they are high in sugar and spend an extended time stuck on your teeth. Chewy candies are also more difficult for saliva to break down. The sugar gets in the grooves and stays there, creating a greater potential for tooth decay to occur. Also, be aware that raisins and other dried fruits have the same risk.

Halloween is a great time to remind your little ones of the importance of brushing and flossing:

  • Brush two times per day, once in the morning and before bed.
  • Floss one time per day. Use children’s flossers to make this easier and more fun.
  • Encourage extra brushing after they eat Halloween candy. If your child is not able to brush after having candy, have them drink water to help wash away the sugar.
  • See a Dentist two times per year for a dental cleaning, exam and professional fluoride treatment. If you are looking for a new dental home, please come see us at Family Dental Care of Milford, we are always accepting new patients.

Smiles!   Authored by: Amanda Smith, DMD, MPH (Ellamina’s mom) Kelly Fontaine, RDH (Addison’s mom)

Parents and Youth Athletics: Tips From a Coach and Dad

sports image2Will your son or daughter become a professional athlete one day?

I just had a scout tell me my two year old son is going to be a first round draft pick in the year 2030. However, first he is going to have to make it from mite hockey all the way through junior hockey. Back to this in a moment.

Youth athletics can be some of the best years of a child’s life. They’ll make memories, meet new friends and learn values – all positive enhancements in a child’s development.  I have been very fortunate to work in a youth sports environment for the past 12 years.  (I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up and I wouldn’t change what I do for anything!). I have seen the highs and lows of a child’s development.  My experience in the hockey world translates to youth sports and any youth athletic environment.  Whether it is hockey, baseball, football, dance, or soccer, parents can all have the same positive or negative effect in their child’s athletic development.

Here are my words of wisdom to parents:

  • Do not become the evil of your son or daughter’s youth sport experience.
  • Let them develop the love of the game on their own.
  • Let their coaches teach them the skills they need and let them know that it is okay to make mistakes.
  • Don’t push them or put unnecessary pressure.  It saddens me when I see a player make a mistake on the ice and his eyes immediately glare for his parent’s reaction.  This will not help your child become a better athlete.  It makes them a nervous athlete and has the potential to push him or her away from the sport that they have grown to love.
  • When you are driving in the car after baseball, hockey or soccer practice, make your conversation about the positives that he or she did; reflect  it to the team (if it is a team sport).  Ask them: did you listen to coach when he was correcting you?   Did you have fun today?

My point is this: don’t be a coach – they usually have three of them in a team environment.  Be a parent and listen to them. Let them love what they are doing.

Okay… now back to my son being a first round draft pick. It probably won’t happen, so I think I would rather him develop a passion for a sport that he is interested in and let him see it through. I think I will support him by driving him to his practices, games and tournaments and let him enjoy his teammates. I want him to learn the values of teamwork and what it takes to accomplish a goal as a team.  Children can learn so many lessons from youth athletics that will help them grow and mature. Let’s let them figure it out with our positive guidance and not our negative pressure.

-Authored by Dan Fontas

 ELCM Parent / Coach

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