Identifying and Helping a Child who stutters

Written by Stephen Groner, MS, CCC-SLP

Lancaster, PA. USA

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What is stuttering?

How do you tell if a child is more likely to continue to stutter or grow out of it?

He’s telling you about his “t-t-train” and his parents are looking at you with pained eyes. Well, there are 9 Big Risk Factors for persistent stuttering.

Risk Factors for Persistent Stuttering:

  1. Having a family history of stuttering (especially persistent stuttering).

  2. Being male.

  3. Having a later onset of stuttering after 3 and ½ years.

  4. Having one’s stuttering not start to decrease within twelve months.

  5. Stuttering for longer than one year.

  6. Exhibiting an average of more than 3 rapid repetitions.

  7. Exhibiting prolongations and/or blocks.

  8. Having poor articulation/phonological abilities. (For more information, click here.)

  9. Have a sensitive or inhibited temperament.


The more of these you have checked off, the more likely a child will continue to stutter.
So feel more confident in the treatment decisions you make if you have the data to back it up!

How can you help a young child who stutters? Use the Reduced Demands Technique!

Although we don’t often think about it, talking effortlessly in front of people can be pretty difficult, especially if your child stutters. That’s why it can be so powerful for children who stutter if the demands placed on them around speaking are dialed waaaaaay back. A lighter speaking burden leads to easier, more fluent speech.

Here’s how you can help a child who stutters:

  1. Have daily, one-on-one time alone with your child, just you and them.

  2. Let them take the lead on what gets played with and talked about and follow them there. Whatever they’re interested in is what you should be interested in.

  3. Don’t finish their sentences for them or guess what they’re trying to say, even though it may feel like you’re trying to help.

  4. Make more comments instead of asking questions so they don’t feel like they’re in the hot seat (for example, when talking about a knight, say “He’s climbing up the castle” [comment] instead of “What’s he doing now?” [question]).

  5. When you do ask a question, ask them “closed” questions, which can be answered with a single word or small fact, instead of “open” ones, which require more complicated language,
    For instance, instead of asking, “What did you do in school today?” which is pretty open-ended and complex to answer, you could ask, “Did you go to art class today?” and after that, “Did you like it?” Which require only a “yes” or “no” answer.

  6. Leave a brief pause between turns in the conversation. When they ask or say something, pause for one beat before you respond, to show them they have more time to talk.

  7. Every time they say something, no matter how it comes out, make them feel like what they’ve said is the most important and meaningful thing in the entire world to you in that moment. Focus on the message beneath the stuttering, not the stop-and-start method in which it’s conveyed.


This and everything else you need to treat stuttering like a BOSS is in my “Ultimate How to Treat Stuttering Package” on my website. Get it now and scan it before the school year starts!

Brains and Brawn Really Do Go Together

Written by Allison Mell, PT, DPT and Maryann Deutsch, MS, OT/L, cofounders of Tots On Target

New Jersey, USA

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No more pencils, no more books! This summer mantra is music to our ears and a chance to put all academic pressures aside, embracing relaxation and fun. Preparing the sunscreen and towels brings a new energy to the season.

As the weeks clock on, it doesn’t take long for many parents to begin thinking about the upcoming school year when September no longer seems that far away. Unlike several decades ago, parents of twenty-first century preschoolers are already in the mindset of considering whether their children have met certain academic milestones and retained enough letter and number recognition to start the next school year off on the right foot.  Teachers, on the other hand, may not only think about their incoming students’ levels of intelligence, but also feel some trepidation of how to handle the ever growing number of children entering their classrooms with immature pencil grasps, poor posture, difficulty modulating their voices, and sensory related behavioral issues. So, what can you as a parent do over the summer to best prepare your child for school?

 

While knowledge is definitely power, a strong underlying foundation, made up of sufficient physical strength and a solid sensory system, needs to be laid in order to set our children up for academic success. Brains and brawns really DO, in fact, go together! Summer is the perfect opportunity for parents to focus their free time on activities to help their children establish these foundational skills. The best part is, this type of homework is fun!

Here are some of the many activities you can do in the upcoming weeks to help your child stay on target.

  1. Swimming: An activity that many already participate in over the summer. Swimming strokes engage the entire body and help strengthen the arms, back, and core, which directly affect posture for sitting on a chair or on the floor during circle time.

  2. Climbing and Swinging: Hanging and swinging from monkey bars or trapeze swings and climbing up jungle gyms builds strength from shoulders to fingers, helping to develop gross motor and fine motor skills for sports activities, writing, cutting, and buttoning jackets.

  3. Tummy Time: This position is not just for babies! Reading books or coloring on their bellies helps children build up shoulder and neck strength needed for looking up at a blackboard. This is an easy way to fit in a mild workout to leisurely activities at home.

  4. Playing Games: Game night isn’t only for family bonding. Playing Topple, Othello, Mancala, or Connect Four are perfect opportunities to develop manual dexterity, an ability to coordinate skillful hand motions needed for opening containers in the lunch room, zipping up a jacket, and covering markers with their caps.

  5. Messy Play: Letting your kids run barefoot through the grass, build sand castles at the beach, paint recyclable boxes, and play with shaving cream in the bathtub, awakens and strengthens the tactile sensory system to help them tolerate the feeling of more fitted school clothing or reach into their backpacks to find a folder without looking.

  6. Obstacle Courses: Climbing under and over chairs, rolling and tumbling on the floor, and even jumping on couch cushions helps build the vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems, leading to a better sense of personal space and can help reduce fidgeting.

 

All children benefit from physical movement to strengthen their gross motor and fine motor skills while also building a strong foundational sensory system necessary to sit, write, and compose themselves properly in a classroom setting.  In today’s pressured environment to make sure our children measure up academically, we may forget how important it is for kids to get out and move their bodies, explore textures, and learn through play! These skills are not only just as important as academic skills, but absolutely must be present in order for your child to even BE ABLE to learn! Whether or not you have identified any developmental concerns, take advantage of the summer months and prepare your kids for the next school year with some good quality playtime by attempting 3-4 of the above activities each week!

Introducing Loose Parts in a Play Environment

Written by Becky Williams – Early Childhood Educator and Wooden Toy Maker ChickadeesWoodenToys.Etsy.com     @Chickadeeswoodentoys

Tennessee, USA

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I remember the first time I heard the term "loose parts".  In my mind I thought of parts and pieces broken, lost, or missing from their appropriate box or game. Since then I have learned and seen how wrong that thinking was.  While the term Loose Parts has become second nature to me, you may know these toys as bits and pieces, odds and ends, little things, and even clutter.  My hope is to share my understanding and excitement so that you too can see the benefits of Loose Parts in your child's play.

 

What are Loose Parts?

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Loose Parts def. - materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways.  Loose parts can be natural, recycled, or synthetic materials.  Loose Parts are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. The versatility of these materials provides children with endless ways to create and explore. 

It is helpful to think of loose parts as something that will encourage children to use imagination and creativity on their own terms and in their own unique way.

Many Loose Parts can be found in your kitchen, craft room, or garage.  Some Loose Parts can be purchased very inexpensively at dollar stores or second hand shops.  Nature walks are perfect for finding and discussing natural loose parts. 

 

Introducing Loose Parts

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Start small.  When introducing loose parts for the first time, plan to start small.  Both you and your child can easily become overwhelmed with too many options.

If this is your first time incorporating loose parts into your children's play, you may hear questions like "What is this for?" or "What am I supposed to do with these?".  Answer these questions with "They can be whatever you want them to be.” or “How would you like to play with them?"  Give examples of what you would do with them in a small world setting or a building experiment.

Playing with your child will help them to feel confident to make choices and independent decisions.  You will both quickly warm to the idea of loose parts in the play environment.  The goal is to encourage creativity and imagination.

 

Using Loose Parts in Play:

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The wonderful part is allowing the children the freedom to investigate the materials, choose how they would like to use them, and take them to any area of the classroom or playroom.

A few areas where you could introduce loose parts:

  • Playdough Invitation

  • Sensory Tray

  • Block Center

  • Small World Area

  • Home Dramatic Play

  • Sorting Activity (size, color, number, beginning sound, etc.)

  • Outdoor Sandbox

  • Arts and Crafts

  • Nature Study

And on and on!

Loose Parts are yet another tool for Open Ended Play (click here to learn more) and Play Based Learning (click here to learn more).  They provide endless opportunities for creativity, critical thinking skills, imagination, problem solving, fine motor practice, gross motor practice, and so much more.  I think you will find that children are naturally drawn to Loose Parts, and you will quickly see the benefits of Loose Parts in a play environment.



5 Routines Your Toddler Should do Every Day

Written by Meghan Zacok B.Ed. Creator of New Trick Kids.

Washington, USA

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A daily routine provides comfort and consistency to a child's life. Children (and adults) feel the most secure when their lives are predictable. Routines provide children with a sense of comfort and safety, create predictable transitions, and promote repetition (which is key for learning). Check out these five routines to incorporate into your child's day!

INDEPENDENT TIME:

Independent play time is where your child plays in a safe area alone for a period of time determined by you. Independent play promotes problem solving, encourages imagination and creativity, and builds self-confidence.

OUTSIDE TIME:

Zip up that jacket and head outside! Sometimes our outside time is a 5 minute walk to the mailbox. Other days we spend the morning at the park. Being outside provides different stimulation (it activates more senses), gets kids moving and taking risks, and reduces stress.

FREE PLAY:

Simple, unstructured play is a crucial part of child development. Between storytime, play group, and music class it's so easy to fill up our toddler's schedule with structured activities. Free play encourages kids to interact with the world around them, decision-making skills, and encourages kids to use their creativity and imagination.

READ:

Reading to toddlers sets the foundation for later independent reading. You don't need flashcards to teach your child language. Read whatever books your child asks for (even if it's the same one over and over), read slowly, read expressively, talk about the illustrations, ask open-ended questions.

TIME TOGETHER:

Life is busy, but spending quality time with your child (just don't even think about that pile of dishes in the sink) is the MOST important thing you can do. Your child is only little for so long, so cherish this time being "present." I consciously set time out of the day just to sit on the floor and play together. Talking, watching, and staring at that adorable little face that keeps growing.

For more ideas, find New Trick Kids on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!