The humble peg can teach us so much!

I wanted to share with you just how powerful the humble peg is.

It is really very impressive.

It can teach your child:

Colour and number: you can talk about the different colours or you can make it a game and to distract them whilst you are hanging out the washing you could ask them to find all the blue ones, or 5 red ones.

Following directions: You can see if they can follow 1 step directions like “Find all the green ones” or you can see if they can follow 2 step instructions – “find me a green peg and a blue peg”, or “put the green peg on the shorts” and for the older child 3 step instructions – “Find me a green peg, red peg and a yellow peg”.

Feelings: I have seen pegs on my ever friendly dog’s ears. So we got to talk about how she might be feeling and what she might be able to do to remove the pegs given she does not have an opposable thumb. If not the dog, I have seen my children attach the peg to their own ear, tongue or lip, so we got to talk about how that felt and what motivated them to do such a thing☺.

Vocabulary: All. The. Clothes.

Ownership: Talk about whose is whose.

Size: Big, little

Parts of the object: You can chat about the shiny bit that holds them together, or how easily the break.

Parents have shared with me that they don’t really like ‘playing’ with their kids and I can totally get that. In our household we just cannot do board games. It brings out the worst in every single one of us. But the truth is we don’t have to be playing with the ‘things’. Having conversations and talking about what we are doing is one of the most powerful ways to grow our children’s language and in turn to grow their brains.

90% of a child’s brain development happens in the first 5 years. Talking to your young child builds the foundations that last a lifetime.

So have fun with the humble peg.

If you are looking for information about what to expect at different ages for your child’s language development then I have pulled together an ebook regarding milestones and how to support their language development. If this is something you are looking for then head here.

Late talkers…. Risk factors and how to help.

I just learnt that Albert Einstein was a late talker. I found this interesting. I am not too sure why, I just did! I think it may be because it highlights that we all follow our own path and they are all awesome. We worry that if our child is not talking, then they won’t do well at school. So on and so forth. We get caught up in our heads (or perhaps that is just me!).

Some parents get really concerned when their young child is late to talk and others are not worried at all. If there is one thing I have learnt over the years of working as a speech pathologist it is that ability is measured in the context within which we exist.

What is a problem for one family, is not for the next.

My opinion as a parent is the more I know the better I can help my child. Also, I like to know I am making things better for them. I am sure sometimes I overthink this waaaaaaay too much.

Even the research for our profession shows that a late talking 2 year old may have perfectly normal language at 4 years of age and the child who seems perfectly normal at 2 may in fact have language concerns at 4 years of age. So my perspective of empowering parents (and all adults who come in contact with kids) to be able to provide rich language learning environments all day, every day remain (in my opinion) valid! You don’t need special toys or games.

So back to late talkers – what constitutes a late talker?

A late talker is a toddler (between 18 and 30 months) who in all ways except their expressive language are developing in a typical pattern. So they understand what is being said to them, they are typically social and their walking and fine motor skills are age appropriate.

Researchers don’t know why some kids are late talkers but they do know about 13% of 2 year olds are late talkers.

A general rule of thumb is by 18 months your babe should have at least 20 words and at 24 months they should use at least 100 words and be beginning to combine words together. Things like “thank you” and bye bye” count as 1 word as these are social words that are seen as 1 word. Two word combinations include “Bye daddy”, “drink milk”.

We actually don’t know who will “just grow out of it” and who will not. What we do know though is that there are risk factors which may influence how likely your child is to have continuing language difficulties.

These risk factors include:
• A history of ear infections,
• Quiet as a baby,
• Limited number of sounds,
• Not using pretend play and linking ideas and actions together in play,
• Not imitating words,
• Using mostly nouns and limited verbs,
• Limited gestures,
• Difficulty playing with others,
• A family history of communication difficulties, and
• Difficulties understanding.

I would encourage you to:
• Get their ears checked;
• Get down to their level (or lift them to yours) and be face to face and talk.

If you want more information on how to support toddlers when the words are not coming then head here.

It is my ebook “What to do when the words are not coming: Essential tools for parents of toddlers.” I hope it helps.

Little moments matter: Building talking and speaking one small moment at a time.

Talking to learn…learning to talk..the value of books

On the weekend a friend of mine gave me a book she has written!  My kids are super impressed that we have a book signed by the author!

It reminded me though of the ‘why’ I love books so much for our kids.

Not only are they a gateway to new vocabulary (and research shows that the more robust our children’s vocabulary the greater success they have when learning at school) but they are also the perfect conversation starter.

They offer you a chance to talk about values and differences. Amy’s book is wonderful for this.

First we learn to talk and then we talk to learn.

As our children start school they need to be able to use language to learn.

Reading books with preschoolers is a great way to introduce them to using language to predict what might happen next. This is a very important skill to have as they go off to school.

Questions like:
• “What might happen next?”
• “How do you think he feels?”
• “What do you think she said?”
• “What could that be?”

These conversations help young kids to use their language skills to talk about the things that are not necessarily in front of them and to get them to think about what might be.

There is no right way to read a book .

Just read it.

Start at the beginning or in the middle.

Read the words or just look at the pictures.

Eat it or not – that depends on age. I highly encourage you to get board or hard plastic books for young children so they can munch as they need.

You can’t go wrong but you can have a lot of fun.


Sometimes you just want to check in with someone…

Last week, I put my ‘baby’ girl (she is 15) on a plane and she went to France for 10 months. She has dreamt of this for years, begged us to allow it to happen and been so focused and excited about it. Then the reality hit all of us.

Let me tell you planning and organising this exchange is infinitely easier than putting her on the plane and letting go.

In the days leading into her departure, woah, big feelings, big emotions and lots of physical symptoms. I found myself calling in the ‘experts’. The professionals who could support our understanding of what she was experiencing. I am ever so grateful to have these people in my Universe.

It reminded me of my intention with Small Connections. I can support families to gain understanding of early communication development and give them tools to support their young children.

I don’t need to take control and be the ‘expert’. I believe to the bottom of my heart that parents are the experts of their children.

This was called into play for me last week.

My expert knowledge of my daughter, combined with professional opinion allowed us the freedom to move forward in a positive, productive and informed way.

As such, I am opening up 10 sessions in September to work with families one on one. Where you can share your thoughts and concerns and we can ‘mash them up’ with my professional expertise around early communication development.

All the sessions will be online. My goal is to increase your understanding of what you are seeing in your child in your day to day.
To allow you the freedom I experienced as I called in the professional expertise to be able to plan and move forward.

I won’t be working with your child but I will be working with you.

You are without a doubt the best person to do the work. I can help you understand what your child is doing and how you can make some changes that will support their talking.

If you want someone to help you:
• Understand your child’s communication development;
• Give you some tools and strategies to implement so you can take action as soon as we finish;
• Support you to create a plan for the next step.

Then I encourage you to have a look. 

I know that parents are the key and essential ingredients to growing strong kids.
I also believe that all care should be parent and child focused.

Your concerns will be my drivers for supporting your understanding.

You can book the session here.