Children’s communication during COVID-19: Survey Results

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.

Check out our summary!

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)?

Excellence through Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Excellence through Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

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:

Collective mentoring (and sometimes network mentoring)

Disability rights in Canada.

Indigenization, decolonization and reconciliation

Black Lives in Canada

Feminism and Science


New to Edmonton (and maybe to English-speaking Canada?): what’s up with the hugs?!?

COVID-19 Multilingual Families Talking and Playing

We are excited to share resources to get multilingual children and their families talking and playing, even during COVID-19 (

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.

@MultilingFamLab on Research on RehabMed Live!

To celebrate May Speech & Hearing month, #CommunicateAwareness, the Communication Science and Disorders Department’s Dr. Esther Kim, Dr. Bill Hodgetts and I participated in today’s @UofARehabMed’ RehabMed Live.  It was exciting to pull together our perspectives on connecting with loved ones and overcoming challenges.


From our lab’s work, I shared about our Survey findings and some new findings from our communicating with children survey.

We have found that most children have lost regular connections with their friends, in particular toddlers and younger school-aged children. Their connections are more limited during the week, and with fewer children

How to help? Try coordinating video play dates…

  • Kids can plan a favourite game and take turns taking the lead
  • “Share” a snack
  • Choose a good time of the day, snack time, quiet time, … 
  • Brainstorm a few activities, start simple: Eye-spy, Simon says, show and tell, green-light-red-light.
  • Ready to level-up? Read a book together, sing a song, learn a new dance, play dress-up, yoga, or even a craft project

Remember that these need not be long – and it might take a few play dates for everyone to get comfortable

Some great resources for parenting during the pandemic from WHO and for talking to children about COVID-19.



Tips for communicating with family & friends during COVID-19

Early in the isolation and lock-down, we found lots of information about how to communicate with colleagues when working remotely.  But we found very little on how to better communicate with family and friends.  Although most of us have family and Communicating with Family & Friends (4)friends who live afar, we often don’t need to use “remote” tools to talk with loved ones who live nearby.  In early April, our lab launched an online survey to better understand how we are communicating with family and friends during COVID-19.

We found that ( PDF Here : )

  • we use different tools depending on our age
  • by using different tools we are quite satisfied with our interactions with loved ones.

And we are coping well.

We did find that we were less likely to be satisfied in interactions with our elderly family and friends.  How can we improve these interactions? Try calling from a quiet place, talking about something familiar, and reminisce.

#WeAreInThisTogether #UAlbertaCSD #CommunicateAwareness

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