Friday, May 13, 2011

A Wonderful Workshop

Today I attended a fabulous workshop titled "ABC and Beyond:  Building Emergent Literacy In Young Children"

It was put on by the Speech, Language & Hearing Association of Peterborough.  The guest speaker was Janice Greenberg, SLP, and program director from The Hanen Centre (

Now, I have no past familiarity with this centre and haven't taken the time to look over the website, but it sounds interesting and I am certainly going to explore it more closely for ideas.

Anyhoo, I signed up for this workshop, being completely unsure if it would be suitable in regards to Hayden.  As it turns out, it was perfect.  I felt it was speaking right to me and the goals we are now trying to achieve with Speech Therapy.  Originally, our goal was just getting him to talk, but now that he can talk sentences, we are working on getting him to realise things like, there is a difference between words and letters, how some words rhyme and that not all words have the same number of syllables.  Perhaps a little advanced for a 4 1/2 year old you might think....and I must admit, before today, I thought what we were trying to achieve was a bit beyond his level at this point.  But this workshop provided me with numerous "AH HA" moments.

It basically was pointing out that these important literacy skills should be introduced around age 3 - 5.  Vocabulary grows because of exposure to words. It also showed you ways to engage your children in conversation, which is also where we are at with Hayden.  It's all well and good that he can talk, but we have to try and encourage him to use longer sentences and more descriptive words.

I can't tell you all the details of this workshop, because for one, I would get it wrong, and two, this blog would be pages long.  But here is the synopsis of my "AH HA" moments:

  1. Every night we read stories before bed, I allot about 30 minutes and we can read about 5 - 6 books in that time.  I thought...the more books we read, the more exposure he will get and then his speech will get better....well, what I took away today was..just because he is listening to the story, doesn't mean he is "Getting It"  I left thinking...OK, from now on...story time is not going to be about QUANTITY, but about QUALITY.  Recently, while reading books, Hayden wants to point out things he has noticed in the pictures or ask questions, but after a couple, I move him on so we can finish and get to another story.  What I was missing by doing this was the opportunity to foster conversation.  What better way to engage him then to talk about the story, becuase he is clearly showing interest in it.
  2. Just because you think your child won't understand the word doesn't mean you shouldn't use it.   Use it and explain what it means and ways to use it.  They had an example of teaching children the word "Disgruntled"  Eventually, the children understood what this "big" word meant.  The teacher noticed one child was not quite themselves and ask him what was wrong, the child responded "I just have a lot of 'gruntles today."  Imagine your 4-year old understanding that word? And using is appropraitly?
  3. When you ask them questions, ask them "Open Ended" questions...not one that simply requires a yes or no answer.  Don't say something like "does that girl look scared?"  Instead, say "Why do you think she looks so nervous?" and then take the conversation from there..."what would you do if you were in that situation?"
I remember once having a client tell me that even as a young child, their grandfather would read them stories that we would typically assume are "adult" books, like Moby Dick.  That just because we don't think it's appropriate doesn't mean we shouldn't read it if the child finds it interesting.  I recall thinking what a cool point of view.  I tucked that away for future knowledge.  And I admit, I have used that tidbit..sort of.  I try and read in front of the kids so that they can see that reading is something to be enjoyed, not work forced on you by school or adults.  Especially with Hayden, because I know that as most boys get older, they tend to lose interest in reading.  Sometimes, he comes over when I am reading and points to the words and asks me "what does all this say"  and so long as it's not a sex scene (because I don't think I want to explain some of THOSE words), I read it to him.  Understandably, it doesn't keep his interest, but I don't treat him like he is not intelligent enough for the book...perhaps just not "refined" enough.

Some days I wonder if I am on the right track with my parenting and doing all I can for my children.  Then I go back and read something like this that I just wrote and say, "Hey, I am doing a pretty great job!" ( you just witnessed another AH HA moment) I AM doing a good job, the best I can do anyway, and in the end, when the kids are happy, healthy and tucked into bed....that's all you can ask for right?

P.S. If you have any further questions, please just ask away :-)

1 comment:

  1. I know nothing about this stuff either, but Jack loves reading and we often read complicated 'boring' books like the children's encyclopedia or Matt's Star Wars encyclopedia. We have also read Alice In Wonderland and right now Matt and Jack are reading an adult sci-fi. We figure as long as the violence is low and Jack's interested then why not? Way to go on attending a seminar, btw, I haven't gotten that far!