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Nursery rhymes & your toddler's language development

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 03:52pm
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And you thought Itsy Bitsy Spider was just entertaining your child!

Now researchers have found that song-like rhythmic patterns that make rhyming fun are the very thing that draws attention to the rhythm of language. And when you tap or clap along to the beat of the story, you're really helping your child develop an awareness of the syllables and sounds that make up words. For example, in the rhyme Hickory, Dickory, Dock, each syllable can be clapped as you say the word Hick - o – ry (3 claps).

Nursery rhymes also set the stage for early reading by making children more aware of their own language and how sounds are combined to make words that sound alike - like "clock" and "dock".

Reciting nursery rhymes teaches the rhythm of speech and intonation as well as the grammatical structure of language. You can change your intonation to emphasize certain words or phrases, such as "climbed up the water spout " and …"washed the spider out". This emphasis is present in our everyday language. We raise our voices at the end of a question, and pause between sentences or phrases to emphasize a new thought.

Nursery rhymes also help a child articulate or say consonant sounds clearly. In "Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle", the "d" sound is repeated several times. The sequence of words makes you use different tongue movements and change the position of your teeth against your lips. So the rhymes help children become more fluent in their speaking skills, and able to pronounce sounds they have trouble with.

Using the classic nursery rhymes below, try these activities with your child.

  • Point out rhyming words and ask your child to find more words in the rhyme that sound like these.
  • Point out words that start with the same sound(s) and ask your child to think of other words that start with the same sound.
  • Using things like a pencil on a tin can, tap out each syllable of the rhyme with a "drum" beat.
  • If your child knows the rhyme well, say parts of it and let him complete it. For example, let him fill in words at the end of lines that rhyme – like dock and clock.

 

Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory, dickory, dock.

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Hey diddle diddle
the cat and the fiddle
the cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
to see such sport
and the dish ran away with the spoon.

 

Content provided by the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network

What are your child’s favourite nursery rhymes and how do you use them to support her language development? Share your thoughts with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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Travelling with your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 11:00pm
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Whenever you are travelling with your preschooler—whether it's around town or out of town —you can use Comfort, Play & Teach to make the most of your time with your little one.

If you are going on a trip:

heart Comfort

If your child has a favourite stuffed toy, blanket, etc, don't forget to take it with you on your trip. Children who need a special object to feel safe and secure at home will need it just as much, if not more, while they are away. Make sure to bring extras in case some of these precious objects get lost in transit. This, along with some favourite games and books, will help to maintain a sense of routine and familiarity that will be very comforting to your child in the midst of all the new things he will see and do.

star Play

You may not be able to take a vacation from being a parent, but you can take advantage of your break to explore the more fun aspects of parenting. Take your child to a local festival, ask the hotel staff to help you find children's activities in the area, or simply take the time to play in the water with your child at the pool or beach. By spending time with her and playing with her, you are making her feel important and giving her opportunities to use and develop a wide range of skills.

triangle Teach

Take advantage of being in a new environment to teach your child about different things. You and your child may be seeing trees, flowers, animals and other things that you never see at home. Outings in your new surroundings are adventures that will stimulate your child's curiosity. Encourage him by showing an interest in his discoveries, pointing out new things, answering his questions and letting him share his impressions with you.

If you are staying close to home:

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When you plan special outings, take along what you need to prevent little problems from becoming crises: pack some favourite snacks in case there is no food available when your child gets hungry. Carry a lightweight change of clothing in case of falls, spills, etc. It is also a good idea to bring the stroller in case you end up walking more than you planned. Responding to your child's basic needs in this way will comfort him and help ensure that everyone has a good time.

star Play

While it's tempting to squeeze in lots of activities in the little free time you have with your children, remember that less is often more for young children because they tire quickly. Choose one activity per day and take the time to really enjoy it together. You may also want to invite a friend and her children along. This will allow the activity to be a social one for both you and your child.

triangle Teach

Plan to arrive at the activity, event or place early in the day when your child is still fresh and has the energy to appreciate what is happening. This way he will be in the best disposition to participate fully and learn new things. Later, discuss with your child what she saw and did and encourage her to share this experience with others who were not there. Doing this will exercise her memory and help her practice her story-telling skills.

 

Have you used Comfort, Play & Teach when travelling with your preschooler? Share your experiences below by leaving a comment!

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Reading to your preschooler and language development

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 06:35pm
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The latest science tells us that reading to our children does much more than please and delight them.

It helps them to build a large vocabulary and a range of language skills such as good listening and comprehension skills, which will help him learn to communicate and which are also related to children's reading ability as they grow.

As a parent, you can do many things to turn story time into learning time:

Open a book and read to your child to introduce her to basic aspects of reading, such as the way to hold a book and how to turn a page.

Read favourite books again and again. This will help her learn vocabulary. With enough repetition, she may also learn to tell the story on her own. Praise her for the new words she has learned and for her good memory.

Stop often and ask your preschooler questions about what you have just read, and what might happen next. This will help him develop listening skills and increase his comprehension of what you are reading. He'll also begin to learn how stories are organized.

Give clues about how reading works. Point to the words and pictures on the page as you read aloud to show him how the words go from left to right across the page, how words are separated by spaces, how words are made up of letters, and how pictures of objects correspond to words.

There are other ways you can promote language and pre-literacy skills in your child, such as pointing to and naming objects around the room to increase comprehension and vocabulary, saying nursery rhymes and playing rhyming games to help him manipulate sounds, and having conversations during everyday activities.

Knowing you are teaching your child as well as pleasing him, is one of the real rewards of parenting.

Content provided by the Canadian Language and LIteracy Research Network.

 

Video Alert!
For more information on reading with your preschooler, watch our Reading with Your Preschooler Comfort, Play & Teach Video.

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Comfort, Play & Teach and Your Baby's Social Development

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 12:57pm
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Every day, there are plenty of opportunities to use Comfort, Play & Teach: A Positive Approach to Parenting. The following examples from our experts show how you can support the social development of your baby while doing your routine errands.

When you are running errands with your baby, he often gets lots of attention from the people around you. He sees many new faces and hears new voices, so make sure to talk to him and let him see that you are close to him so he feels comforted by your presence. This will help him develop a sense of security and give him the confidence to face unfamiliar people and surroundings.

You will also find that your baby is interested in the other babies you meet along the way. Don’t hesitate to stop for a few minutes and let your child interact and play with them; they may “socialize” by making eye contact and communicating through sounds or gestures.

When you leave the house and return, say “Good-bye” and “Hello” to other family members. Over time, this teaches your baby that he always comes back to his family, and that he can trust them to return when they go out too.

Did you use any of these strategies with your baby? How well did they work? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents.

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