Helping children communicate their emotions is a particular challenge for parents during COVID-19, especially when we are lock down. We pulled together resources online and found that we can help children practice naming, responding, and expressing their feelings. That we can help our kids by staying calm and showing empathy. Experts also point to the importance of regular schedules and routines – even when everything else is upside down.
These tips grew out of the survey we launched early in May 2020 to understand how COVID-19 was impacting children’s communication. We shared the general findings here. We also developed tips for keeping children talking. Parents expressed that more information about helping their kids communicate would be helpful. During our July lab meetings, we brainstormed what should go into the tip sheet. Carolina and Maryam wrote the text and prepared the “mise en page” and we are ready to share!
Use everyday activities to build your child’s language abilities. With younger children, narrate what your child is doing and what they are seeing, read books, and play word or rhyming games. Ask questions about what they are up to and what will happen next. Play “eye-spy” and “what if?” With older children, learn “pig latin”, develop a family rhyming slang, play board games together, start a family book club (or get grandparents, aunties, and other families involved).
These tips grew out of the survey we launched early in May 2020 to understand how COVID-19 was impacting children’s communication. We shared the general findings here. Parents expressed that more information about helping their kids communicate would be helpful. During our July lab meetings, we brainstormed what should go into the tip sheet. Kylene and Catrine wrote the text and prepared the “mise en page” and we are ready to share!
We created tip pages in Spanish, French and English.
Early in May 2020, we launched a survey to understand how COVID-19 was impacting children’s communication. We’ll summarize the results and tips below. You can also find the results on ERA at UofA. A total of 201 parents responded who spoke English, French or Spanish at home.
Parents noted that the largest change in communication for children was communication with their friends. Some strategies to continue play with friends includes using video-chats to play games, charades, or board games.
Parents also noted that the needed to have more coaching from teachers or specialists. A key strategy is to clearly define what you need to best support your child. Remembering that each family has their own needs.
Parents also sought information what games would work best for their child. Puppets and play microphones can be a good way to get young one’s talking. Exploring board-games with older children can also build interactions.
One of our favourite resources has been put together by UNICEF.
Last, we are experiencing exceptional and challenging times, so if you or a family member needs help, do not hesitate to seek professional advice.
What has been helpful for you? What have you found hard(est)?
In June 2020, the Multilingual Families Lab discussed our values and what we wanted to bring forward. We have been inspired by the work of Dr. Katta and Dr. Liboiron. We believe in excellence through equity, diversity, and inclusion.
We educate ourselves about racism, discrimination, and prejudice.
We are inclusive in our research to build a broader knowledge base.
We listen, even if it makes us uncomfortable, we speak out in the face of discrimination and prejudice, and we support one another in building our superpowers.
Our research aims to build knowledge, provide rich and diverse perspectives, and to help children meet their full potential. Lab members come from Edmonton, Canada, and the world. We collaborate with communities locally, nationally and also internationally. Sometimes we need to take a moment to learn more about our expectations and experiences to come to a common understanding. Within this framework, we value differences in experiences, in knowledge, and in languages.
Some resources we have found interesting and helpful:
These resources are a result of a collaboration between MSc-SLP students from the Communication Sciences and Disorders program, Paris Begrand-Fast, Rebecca Epp, Marisa Lelekach, Tara McPhedran, Romy Pistotnik, Kira Shelton, Krista Toohey, and Taylor Wilson, and Ms. Lucero Vargas, SLP, from Multicultural Health Brokers, and I, Dr. MacLeod.
The project emerged from a conversation between Ms. Vargas and I. As a clinician, Ms. Vargas works with families who have children with communication disorders and who speak languages other than English at home. My research focuses on these diverse families. During the closure of schools and daycares due to the pandemic, I reached out to Ms. Vargas to see what I could do to help. Ms. Vargas noted that families needed simple, easy activity ideas that would provide opportunities for children to engage in language development and play. Our MSc-SLP students were up for the challenge and brought their SLP training, experience with kids, and creativity to the project.
The purpose of this project was to develop these activity ideas and share them with the Multicultural Health Brokers. While all instructions are provided in English, activities were created to be accessible for a variety of languages and cultures.