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 (http://www.hanen.org/)
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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?"
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 :-)