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Posts tagged ‘Language’

Snow Day Fun

Hello all

I know it’s been a while. I took some time off to have my baby (who’s 14 months old now!). 

Today is a snowy day! I am so excited to show my baby girl the fun things you can do in the snow. Staying in it’s an option but outside in the snow you can play (and learn!) too!

Snow games

1. building a snowman – while building your snowman talk about body parts or talk about the steps it takes to build the snowman

2. snow angels – after making snow angels you can talk about how our different body parts made different shapes in the snow

3. snow ball fight – well this is just fun!!

4. explore the snow with your senses – if you have toddlers (like me!) talk about the snow, how it feels, what it looks like, you can smell it, hear it (maybe?), and even taste it! (it’s up to you). Use as many descriptive words as possible!!

Ok, so now i’ll go out and play with my baby!! What other games/activities do you do with your kids? Share with us!


Language and Music:Inseparable

I’ve told you before about my two passions: Language and Music. Watch this slide show that shows us how music and communication are related. Here is a summary of some of the most important points in this slide show:

  • Music and speech are intertwined starting in the womb. (We knew that!)
  • The melody of our voices is the musical nature of speech and it conveys feelings and meaning. For example, when we are happy we use a high pitch voice and we speak fast. When we are sad our speech is slow and we use deep monotone voice.
  • Taking music lessons helps us understand better the melody of words and interpret the emotions that they convey.
  • Pitch can vary between languages.
  • Our voices start getting shaped in the womb by the voices the baby hear.
  • In tonal languages like mandarin or Vietnamese, pitch determines the meaning of words.
  • Our perception of pitch is critical when we communicate to understand what others feel and mean.
  • When we learn to talk we help our music ability a well.

I loved this slide show because in just a few minutes it helps capture and understand the important relationship between language and music! I love my job!

Did you learn something with this slide show? Share your comments!

Speech and language delays can have negative effects in adulthood

Did you know that having a speech/language delay can affect your child as an adult?

Recent research has shown that children with speech-language delays have a higher risk for developing social, emotional, or behavioral problems as adults. And you might ask, what does language has to do with social-emotional behavior? Well…  a lot! Early language delays can affect a child’s ability to socialize with peers and make friends. This social isolation can carry over into their adult years. For example, they might have difficulty making and maintaining relationships or even keeping a job. Also, parents of kids with speech-language difficulties are more likely to be stressed, they show less interest in their child’s education, and do not read regularly to their child.
Here’s what you can do to help your child (when they are still kids)

  1. If the teacher or you think there is a speech and/or language delay, get professional help from a speech therapist. The earlier a child receives proper intervention, the more successful that intervention might be. Contact your child’s school-based speech pathologist or contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
  2. Read at home. Reading helps increase receptive language skills, vocabulary and literacy.
  3. Establish homework routines. Homework helps review the lesson learned. Children with speech-language delays benefit from repetition.
  4. Make sure you are on top of his school activities. 

 Did you know that having a speech/language delay can affect your child as an adult? Now we know and we can help them. 

Growing up bilingual: Misa’s Story

About a week  ago, I received an email from a reader who, after reading some of my posts about bilingualism, wanted to share her story about growing up bilingual. Here’s Misa’s story. 

What would you do, if your child had to become bilingual? My life changed just like that, when my mom gave birth to me in North Carolina, U.S.A.

            My hair is black, my eyes are brown, my skin is yellow and I could speak both Japanese and English. I was born in North Carolina and stayed there for a year and then moved to Georgia. I don’t actually remember the days when I lived in North Carolina, so my life practically started in Georgia, is what I think. Living in America was nothing different to me. Although my parents are both Japanese, and of course I’m Japanese, my home town is America, so nothing got in my way. I went to school in America and acted like American like every child does. I understood myself as Japanese, but inside my heart was all American. To think about it now, maybe it was weird, but that how I was those days. When I was in 4th grade, I was going to school normally. When one of the students in my class asked me, “You look Japanese, but speak English with no trouble. You speak Japanese too right? So, which one are you?”

            That gave me a shock. Since I was born in America and had been living until then, I never thought about who I really was. As a 4th grader, nothing really came up on my mind. I thought myself as an American because I was born in America and I wanted to be an American because that was how I grew up to be, but is that actually the truth? Then, an idea came up to me, when I thought about my other school, Japanese school, popped into my head. Japanese school is an ordinary school that I went to during my American life, only on Saturdays, studying for 7 hours every week. Those days, I hated to go to Japanese school because I didn’t know why I had to learn Japanese when I was in America. I loved America and prayed that I would never leave America and was just confused of my mixed life. I loved my friends there, but I never liked to study about Japan. Maybe I was just stupid, but that’s how I honestly felt during those days. Though I didn’t like to study in Japanese School, when I thought about the question my classmate asked me, maybe that was why my parents made me go to Japanese school. What I thought was that maybe my parents understood my inside feeling and that’s why they made me go to Japanese school only on Saturdays. They probably didn’t want me to forget the feeling to be Japanese since they are Japanese. Though I thought about that, I still don’t really know the actual answer to the question, but I hope it has got a little closer to the answer of what I wanted.

            On June 26, 2008, my life in America ended. I had to move to Japan for my dad’s work. At first, I begged my parents to leave me in America, but nothing changed their mind. They took me to Japan to let me see the outer world of America. It wasn’t like I had never gone outside of America, but that was what they told me to persuade to come. Once I got there, I took a test to go to the school and succeeded. From September, that was where I went. That school that I went to aimed of policy like America with much freedom like no uniform and you could wear any hairstyle you would like, but probably because it was in Japan, it was nothing like America’s school. Though that was the truth about the school I went to, since each and every one of them was from a different country. I liked the way how each student in school had their very own thought. As I say, they each had their own color to themselves. For example, if you give each country in this world a color, that person that has been living there, would have that color inside of them. And also, if that person moved to another country, that person will get that color inside of them as well. Like that, the school I went to had many colors. Meaning, unless you were not living in the totally the same place everywhere with someone else, no one would have the same color as you. And that was how, I explain my unique school as a rainbow with many more patterns. Thanks to that, I was able to not blend in, but get along well with my very good friends.

            I might go through many troubles living in this country, going to this school, but because everyone has their own thought, I think I will be able to get it over with, with many people’s advice.

            I hope, when I end my life, that I would be able to understand of who I really am and why I was born in this weird colorful life.

Thanks Misa!

What a beautiful way to describe being bilingual! So, what color/s are you?

About Misa: She is a 16 year old high school student who is still living…you guessed it, Japan!

How can I help my child in his/her development? Part 2

Last time (2 weeks ago) I explained briefly 4 main areas of child development. Today I want to share some tips of games/activities parents can do to help their children in each area! I am going to give suggestions that are helpful for children in the first 5 years of age.

Motor Development (gross and fine). Motor development is all about movement. Have fun moving!

  • Make your home safe- Children need to be able to be in a safe environment for them to explore movement with their bodies. Let them crawl, climb, walk and jump as much as possible.
  • Play with balls- Playing with balls helps them with hand-eye coordination skills.             
  • Play with building and stacking toys such as blocks, pegs, and beads – Those toys can really help their fine motor skills.
  • Use writing materials- Another great activity that helps strengthen fine motor skills.

Cognitive Development. This area is all about their ability to think.

  • Play peek a boo/hide and seek- With this game they learn about object permanence (objects exist even when we can’t see them).
  • Let them do things by themselves (so they can figure out how to do it) -This helps with problem-solving skills.
  • Place things out of their immediate reach – They will find a way to reach it. Again problem-solving skills.
  • Let them try things first then help them – I know it’s hard, because you want to help them all the time. But it’s really important that they start to figure out the world by themselves!

Socio-emotional Development. This is where they build their self-confidence and self-esteem.

  • Have play dates – This gives them the opportunity to make friends.
  • Pretend play with a doll or a dog  – This will help them learn about caring for others.
  • Pretend play (eating out) – Helps learning about manners.
  • Play with children different ages- This helps them learn how to relate with different people.
  • Have a feelings cup/box – Write down or have a picture of different feelings, once in a while discuss them. Talk about a situation when you might feel this feeling and you could even role-play that situation. This will help them to cope appropriately when a situation comes up and the child is not sure how to express his/her feelings.

Language Development. Love this area! Children develop language mostly by imitating you. Make sure you are modeling appropriate language skills and vocabulary. Here are some games you can play:

  • Put some objects in a container and name them as you take them out.
  • Move your body in different ways and name the movement.
  • Pretend play (any familiar situation) – Talk about what happens and the objects you use (e.g. eating dinner)
  • Read books – Helps with vocabulary.

There are many more activities you can do to help your child in each area. This is just an example of what you can start doing today!

What area do you think you encourage your child more/less?

photo: Kindermusik

Music benefits…

Music can have so many benefits in our lives! It helps with cognitive, physical, language, socio-emotional, reading, writing, and math skills…!! So, in this post we’ll see how music has benefits in academic areas such as literacy and math.

Literacy is defined as how well we read and write. Once we learn how to read, we read all the time: we read menus, books, flyers, street signs, etc. We write things all the time as well. From the more sophisticated report at work to leaving a note to someone in your family! In order to acquire these skills and use them effectively, one has to manipulate sounds and parts of sounds which is called phonological awareness and understand that print has different functions, such as give choices (menus), tell a story (book), or make an announcement, which is called print awareness, as well as have good oral language skills.

Children’s songs often divide words in syllables, use rhyming words, and repeat words, phrases, syllables and sounds. All of this helps with literacy skills. In addition, we sing them ALL the time (Do you still have a favorite?)

Music also benefits math skills. Math skills include not only numbers, but shapes, spatial relationships and patterns.

When you listen to music or practice music you are counting, or following a beat, or a rhythm… those are patterns! How about when you play music and listen to notes that are higher or lower? You are practicing geometry skills!

If you want your child to do better in math, reading and writing, pick up those instruments, sing your favorite song and count 1-2-3!!

What is you favorite childhood song?

What’s typical language acquisition?

Although every child is different, these are some guidelines…

Babies start acquiring language since they are in the womb. But by the time they are 6 months old, they are vocalizing more and they respond when they hear their names!! (how cute is that!).

By their 1st year, they start saying some words or approximation of words. Although these words are not produced perfectly, they use these words with intention and consistently. Around this time they are also able to follow some simple directions such as give me the ball, come here, etc.

Around their 2nd year, their vocabulary explodes! They know about 250 words! (Be careful with what you say, they learn words quickly!). They use 1-2 word sentences.

Between ages 4 and 5, they expand their vocabulary and they learn best through pretend play. They answer basic questions, they can re-tell a story (not many details), and participate in conversation.

Keep in mind that each child is different and they learn differently. So, if your child is not doing some of these things, don’t panic yet!  If you have questions contact your pediatrician, your local school or contact ASHA to find a speech pathologist in your area.

Was this information helpful? Do you have any questions regarding language acquisition in children?