speech therapy

Activities That Can Make Speech Therapy More Fun While At Home
Activities That Can Make Speech Therapy More Fun While At Home 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Happy May! This month, the PTN team and people across the country are celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM). During BHSM, we’re provided with, “an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of ASHA members in providing life-altering treatment,” says the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  

At PTN, we believe this is a great time to recognize potential hearing and speech problems and also guide parents so they can take appropriate action. Unfortunately, due to the current situation happening around the world, it may be hard to get access to a speech therapist for your child, leading to you (the parents) taking over that all-important role. 

However, just because you may have to lead speech therapy at home doesn’t mean it can’t be fun for both you and your child! There are many ways in which you can incorporate speech therapy and language learning through engaging activities, games, movement, and more. 

If you feel like you’ve tried everything under the sun but your child doesn’t seem to be interested in working on their speech development, we get it.  We also understand how stressful this can be for not only parents but for children. For this reason, we have come up with a few simple ideas that can make speech therapy a time that you and your child look forward to. Take a look:

1. Take a Bike Ride to a Pretend Place

If your child is old enough to ride a bike, you can take a bike ride to a pretend place together. To start this activity put on your helmets and get ready to ride! Ask your child to come up with a pretend place that you two will ride to – a castle, an ice cream parlor, the ocean, etc. While you’re riding, ask your child questions about the location you’ll be visiting. For example, if your child said that you’ll be visiting a castle, you could ask them questions such as, “What does the castle look like?” or “What type of animals live at the castle?”. Once the bike ride is over, you can go inside and have your child create a drawing of the imaginary place you visited, or go on another adventure!

2. Play, Guess What I’m Sculpting

Believe it or not, playdough is a great speech therapy tool. For this activity, you only need one tub of playdough to share between you and your child. You’ll each take turns sculpting something while the other person guesses what the sculpture is. You can even go the extra mile during this activity by having your child/you give clues on what they’re creating while they’re the sculptor. 

3. Go on a Picture Scavenger Hunt

Picture scavenger hunts are a fun way to get some of your child’s energy out while working on those all-important speaking skills. You’ll need to print out some pictures of common objects that are around your house (bed, television, window, etc.). Hand your child one picture card at a time and have them describe what the object looks like. Ask them questions like what color the object is, what room of the house that object is in, and finally, what the object is. Once they correctly describe or name the object, have your child run to that object and place the card down. Repeat until all the cards are placed in their correct location!

4. Get Creative With Sidewalk Chalk Art

Who doesn’t love playing with sidewalk chalk? We know we sure do! All you’ll need for this activity is some sidewalk chalk and your imagination. Sit with your child on your driveway or sidewalk and decide on a picture or object you’re going to create together. Next, take turns saying what you’ll add to the drawing.

For example, you and your child decide that you want to draw a dog. You could start by saying that you’re going to draw a circle for a face. Then, your child might say, “I’m going to draw the nose”, you might then say, “I’m going to draw an ear.” and so on. Continue switching off being the artist until you have a fully completed masterpiece!

During these trying times, it’s important to stay on top of your child’s speech therapy/speech development. If you are concerned that your child may be falling behind, don’t be afraid to contact a speech therapist to find out how you can help your child. 

You can learn more about Better Hearing and Speech Month by going to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website.

Better Speech and Hearing Month
All the Ways We Can Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month Together
All the Ways We Can Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month Together 1000 1000 PTN Chicago

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and we all can do our part to help raise awareness.

Many people don’t know just how common speech, language, and hearing disorders are among children. There also tends to be a misconception that if someone has difficulty speaking or if they are deaf, they must have other physical or mental impairments, which simply isn’t true. By spreading the word about BSHM and sharing both facts and personal stories of how speech, language, and hearing disorders have affected your friends or family, you can help make the world a more informed, understanding, and accepting place.

Here are a few stats that we found interesting courtesy of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Feel free to share these on social media!

  • Almost 8% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have had a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder in the past 12 months.
  • Among children who currently have a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder, about 34% of children aged 3-10 have multiple speech or language disorders. That number drops to 25% for children aged 11-17.
  • The prevalence of speech and language disorders is highest from the ages of 3 to 6 – during those formative years when most children are learning to speak with fluency (almost always with bumps along the road).

And here are some interesting stats about hearing:

  • 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have some degree of hearing loss.
  • Between two and three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with detectable hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.

In addition to outreach on social media, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has put together a great list of ways that you can celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month.

Personally, we love teaching children about communication through – you guessed it! – play. Here are a few simple games that you can enjoy with your children to help them understand what communication is and why it’s so important.

Simon Says – This classic game is wonderful because it can be played virtually anywhere. Driving in the car, in the park, around the dinner table… you name it. By having your children listen carefully and follow instructions, they can practice some of the fundamental elements of strong communication.

The I Love You Game – Ok, I just made this game up, but I think it’s going to catch on. The game is simple – work with your child to come up with all the different ways that you can express love to one another. You might start by saying “I love you” out loud. Then you could give each other hugs. Or maybe kisses on the cheek. Maybe you could express love with a dance or by doing something nice for each other. See how many fun ways you and your little one can come up with to communicate your love for each other. And when you get tired of being lovey-dovey (if that ever happens), try playing the game with other concepts or emotions like happiness, sadness, and surprise.

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.

indoor play
Chicago Winter Play Ideas for Kids
To Encourage Motor Skills, Speech & Social Play
Chicago Winter Play Ideas for Kids
To Encourage Motor Skills, Speech & Social Play
1000 667 PTN Chicago

Between the snow and chilly January weather, finding fun, stimulating and safe activities for kids can be a challenge for any parent.

Here in the Chicago area, we’re so fortunate to have a number of great resources and fun winter activity opportunities to help you resist the urge to turn to the iPad babysitter. There are plenty of great ways to get out of the house and allow your child to engage in important social activities with their peers. If you’re into staying in, we’ll also provide some great ideas for encouraging safe and active play in your home (even in small spaces).

Outdoor & Out-of-the-House Winter Activities for Kids

Fresh air, sunshine, and yes, even snow can be great sensory experiences for all kids, especially those with special needs. Bundle up and build a snowman, go sledding, and have fun! Even a quick 15-20 minute walk can help boost concentration and get out some of the frustrations of being cooped up indoors (…and it’s great for Mom and Dad, too)!

If you’re looking for some affordable kids’ activities in Chicago or the surrounding areas, try the Lincoln Park Zoo or the Brookfield Zoo. Both zoos offer amazing indoor play spaces, as well as hands-on activities and exploration challenges. Accessible by public transportation, the Zoo is a great space to connect with nature.

fun with aquatic therapy!We just love Goldfish Swim School, so we definitely recommended it as a great indoor swim space for kids. They offer family swim times and other opportunities for kids to experience swimming and water play. Working in the water has great benefits for kids with physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) needs, as it fosters fine motor development. Plus, the social-emotional aspects of a pool environment also go far in helping children strengthen language skills.

The Chicago Children’s Museum is another great child-friendly environment. The museum is very wheelchair accessible and offers free access for all children on Thursday evenings from 5-8pm and on the first Sunday of every month. If you really want to get your kids engaged in the museum experience, try challenging them to a scavenger hunt or asking them to “find” certain items during their trip. It adds another element of exploration and makes their trip even more exciting.

“I highly recommend Flying High Gymnastics in Countryside, IL (or their additional location in Hickory Hills). I love that this gym is very child friendly and individually focused. They offer a variety of classes that are open to children of all ages. They welcome parent participation for their “Twinkling Tots” group (all children under 3) and continue to offer graduated courses for every milestone/age group. There are various open gym opportunities every day of the week, including Saturday afternoons and weekday mornings for little toddlers. Diversity is highly valued here. Children with special needs are welcome with opportunities to adapt equipment and even seek individualized instructors. (Occupational therapists are on staff.)” –Laura Vazquez, PT, DPT, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Pediatric Therapy Network

Little Beans Cafe is tons of fun and very accessible for kids with special needs and abilities. You can enjoy the family café while your child engages in imaginative and creative play. There are creative movement classes for infants, toddlers can build on their toddler skills, and they even offer hip-hop and dance classes for older kids.

Winter Activities for Kids: At Home

January is TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Awareness month, so it’s an appropriate time to touch on safe activities you can do at home, regardless of needs and ability levels. All children need activity and physical stimulation within a safe and comfortable space.

In the summer months, outdoor activities abound—from the park to the pool, city and suburban kids have plenty of chances to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. During the winter, getting that same activity level in can present a bit more of a challenge, especially for kids without a yard or a play space within their home.

—  Setting up a Play and Activity Space

Jumping Couch ArmsMovement and activity is key from a physical therapy perspective. Occupational therapists also know that, for kids, play IS their occupation and movement is even important for speech and language activities as well. No matter your child’s needs, the importance of regular movement and activity can’t be overstated.

Depending on the size of your home, you may need to get a little creative when setting up a safe space. First of all, look around at the resources you have on hand. Clear a space in your living room (flip up couch cushions and cover table corners and anything hard or sharp). If you have more space in the basement, kitchen or even in a bedroom, consider moving furniture and pushing beds to the side of the room to create more space. It’s all about creating a safe, open space where your child can really move around.

—  Fun Ideas for Indoor Activities

From there, the sky’s the limit in terms of activities:

  • Nerf balls and baskets can be great to get kids dunkin’ and movin’.
  • Turn on some music and start a dance party.
  • Come up with an obstacle course or challenge where kids have to engage in two or three activities in rapid succession. Try working on catching and tossing a ball, balancing, tossing a yo-yo or beanbags, or even blowing bubbles.
  • Rethink “indoor activities” and bring some of your favorites inside, modified to fit your space. Play leapfrog, create a circus ring complete with performers, or put on a short theater play with older kids.

“To curb winter blues, many toddlers love scavenger hunts! They get a thrill discovering hidden toys or just spotting them around the room. Involve them in hiding toys as well, for siblings and parent participation. After they find the toy, they can return to home base (a puzzle board or other task) after navigating through creative obstacle courses. If indicated and safe, couch cushions, improvised low balance beams, and stepping stones can be great additions to the obstacle course.

lauraBe sure to check with your therapists about any precautions for using equipment and if your child may be more at risk for any head or neck injuries. As long as the child can adapt, falling is a skill to be mastered and is a necessary part of growth! Enjoy this season, and stay warm and bundled!” –Laura Vazquez, PT, DPT, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Pediatric Therapy Network

Engaging in active, social play (instead of too much TV time) allows your child to build and hone the skills they need. For example, include activities that involve blocks and building or beads and crafts to help them really refine dexterity skills and boost concentration.

At Pediatric Therapy Network, we strongly believe in-home therapy is beneficial to your child’s development, as familiar environments are where kids feel most comfortable. Rather than going “away” to an office or building, your child learns and associates their skills with their home and other familiar places like school, the park, and among their social network.

Creating a fun, stimulating indoor space can help your child fend off winter blahs and keep them making great progress, even in the coldest months. It’s an important part of keeping kids healthy and working on gross and fine motor skills, as well as social and emotional growth. Get your kids away from the screen and engaged in some fun activities this winter!

PTN specializes in Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy, and offers a unique home-centric approach for children in their familiar environments. If you’re looking for more great ideas for your child’s special needs, or if you have questions about our services, please contact us! We look forward to serving you and your child!

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