Tag Archives: Communication

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Don’t forget about play!

Play is important for children’s development – it helps them make sense of their world and promotes resiliency. During the pandemic, it’s important to keep children engaged in play by making time for play, creating a space, and finding ways to maintain friendships. Kids can bring the pandemic into play: curbside delivery (instead of playing restaurant), superhero-scientists out to beat the virus. We can also use technology to bring friends together.

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 and helping them expressing emotions. 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. Farah and Claire wrote the text and prepared the “mise en page” and we are ready to share!

  • Tips for engaging kids in play

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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.

  • Tips in Spanish
  • Tips in French
  • Tips in English
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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)?

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We are excited to share resources to get multilingual children and their families talking and playing, even during COVID-19 (https://bit.ly/PlayIdeasMultilingFamLab).

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.

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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.

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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.

AM