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Thomas Chibucos

Speech Therapy Games for Kids
3 Speech Games You Can Play to Get Your Child Ready for School
3 Speech Games You Can Play to Get Your Child Ready for School 1000 519 Thomas Chibucos

The back-to-school season can be a time of a lot of mixed emotions for both parents and kids. Your child might be thrilled to see their friends again but saddened about losing some of the freedom they enjoyed over the summer. Or if they’re just starting school, they may be nervous about fitting in or making new friends. You, likewise, might be ecstatic to no longer have to worry about summer childcare but equally nervous about how your child will do in a classroom.

One simple way that both you and your child can feel more prepared for school is with learning games that will help them strengthen their social skills and also build the fundamentals of learning that will help them succeed academically. Here are three speech games that you can play with your child to help prepare them for school.

High / Low

This is a fun game that you can play around the dinner table or before bed. As a family, go around and each share what your high for the day was and what your low for the day was. This game is wonderful for helping children reflect on their experiences, vocalize their emotions, and process things that went well and things that they would have liked to go differently. It’s also a simple way to connect as family every day. When you share your experiences, it helps your children learn more about what you value and how you express your feelings.

Singing

Singing with your child is a wonderful way to have a good time, build their confidence, and work on a variety of speech and language disorders. For example, children who have a stutter often have an easier time singing than speaking. Singing is also an exercise in breathing and swallowing, and it’s fun!

Often the biggest obstacle to singing with kids is finding songs that won’t drive you crazy. Don’t settle for nursery rhymes if they’re going to make you nuts. Instead, try finding Disney songs, kid-friendly versions of pop songs, or even old standards that you’ll be able to sing on repeat with ease.

The Rhyming Game

This simple game can be played anywhere. Use it to pass the time while waiting in line or while driving or anywhere else. Simply choose a simple word and have your child come up with as many rhyming words as possible. You can also go back and forth, each contributing words that rhyme. This is a great way to help build your child’s vocabulary and encourage them to think critically.

For slightly older children (3+), you can take this game to the next level by working together to memorize a short poem. Poems are great for appreciating the natural rhythms and cadence of language and, again, building vocabulary.

If your child is having a difficult time expressing themselves, or if you’re worried about a possible speech or language disorder, our Chicago speech therapists may be able to help. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how Chicago speech therapy could help your child feel more confident and expressive.

Feel the Love and Grow with These Family Activities Geared Toward Child Development
Feel the Love and Grow with These Family Activities Geared Toward Child Development 1280 810 Thomas Chibucos

No two children are alike. Every child will develop at his or her own pace, and every child will have certain strengths and certain weaknesses. If your child is a bit behind with their gross motor, fine motor, or speech skills, working with a physical therapist can be helpful. But you can and should also enjoy activities at home that can help promote healthy development.

The best occupational therapy and speech therapy for children is usually play based. Here are a few simple family child development activities that you can do (at little or no cost) with your children to help them grow stronger and more confident in their abilities.

Drawing Rainbows and Racing Cars to Cross the Midline

Some children have a tough time crossing the midline. This means that they have trouble using the two halves of their body together. This is a skill that most children develop by the age of three or four. If your child could use some extra practice crossing the midline, get a big sheet of butcher paper or poster board and have them actually sit on the edge of the paper. Then, give them crayons or markers to make semicircles around their own body. The result will be a beautiful rainbow of color and great practice using their hands on both sides of their body. Be sure to get in on the fun as well with your own rainbow.

You can also practice crossing the midline by making a figure eight race track and running cars around it. You can use electrical tape or masking tape to make a small track on your floor, or use a wooden train set if you have one. By moving cars or trains in a figure eight pattern, your child will move their arms back and forth across the midline.

Playing Hand Games to Develop Fine Motor Skills and Language Skills

Plenty of nursery rhymes and children’s songs use hand gestures. Singing these songs with your children and doing the hand movements with them can help develop fine motor skills and promote better language skills at the same time.

Sing a few rounds of The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and don’t forget to make rain trickle down your child’s face with your fingertips. Pat-a-cake is another favorite that parents and children can play together. You can also count off the ten little monkeys rolling out of bed on your fingers, or you can make up hand gestures for your child’s favorite song or lullaby.

Crawling Through Tunnels and Rolling on Scooter Boards to Build Gross Motor Skills

A nylon pop-up tunnel can be purchased for under $15, and scooter boards can be found for less than $20. These great toys can be used for all sorts of imaginative active play. Not only will your child (and you) develop important muscles and improve flexibility, he or she will have endless hours of fun in the process. Get on your scooter boards and pretend your living room is a raging river that you need to navigate together. Or see just how much fun your toddler has crawling through a colorful tunnel and playing peek-a-boo at either end. You’ll be blown away by the laughs and smiles.

Top Toys Recommended by Our Therapists this Holiday Season
Top Toys Recommended by Our Therapists this Holiday Season 1000 563 Thomas Chibucos

The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spoil your children (in the best sense). You can go a little crazy with presents without any parental guilt and bring some wonderful smiles to your children’s faces. You can also help encourage development by choosing toys that have educational and therapeutic benefits.

As you know, we at PTN are big fans of providing therapy through play, and there’s no reason why some of the presents you get for your little ones can’t support their therapy needs while offering hours of fun. Here are our top choices for developmental toys for kids this holiday season:

Mr. Potato Head – This classic toy is still a lot of fun for both boys and girls. Your child can practice identifying the different parts, clothes, and associated colors of Mr. Potato Head. You can also practice skills like sharing, taking turns, and requesting desired pieces.

Puzzles – Age appropriate jigsaw puzzles are a lot of fun for parents and children to assemble together. You can work together to identify colors, shapes, and objects on the pieces and practice those fine motor skills.

Bubbles – Bubbles are a simple and cheap stocking stuffer that will entertain kids of every age. Blowing bubbles helps kids practice their oral motor skills, and popping bubbles works their fine motor skills. Bubbles are also great for developing social skills like engagement, turn taking, and eye contact.

Crawling Tunnel – An affordable toy that can spark imaginary adventures in the mind of your child, crawling babies to school age children can enjoy this simple sensory activity while practicing concepts like “in” and “out” and building physical strength.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Cutting Fruit Set: It’s hard to go wrong with any toys from Melissa & Doug, but we particularly like this play food set that lets your kids practice their fine motor skills by “cutting” Velcro fruit pieces apart. Your child will (without realizing it) practice skills like sharing, turn taking, fine motor skills, and vocabulary.

Books – It’s never too early to give your kids books. When they’re infants, you can read to them, and they’ll love the musical sound of your voice, the colors of the pages, and the experience of engaging with you. When they’re a bit older, they’ll start practicing pre-literacy skills like turning the pages and making sounds. A bit later, you can practice identifying characters, colors, and objects together. And ultimately, your child will enjoy reading to him or herself, because it will be a familiar hobby that they have always cherished.

These are just some of our favorite developmental toys for children. If your child could use some help with a particular skill, give us a call or send us a note to ask about other toys that might help them grow and learn as they play. Happy holidays!

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