by Melanie Stinnett, TheraCare Outpatient Services
How in the world do classroom teachers do it? They have 20 or more kids in a classroom and keep the peace most of the time, all while teaching our children meaningful lessons and skills. I’m a newly minted stay-at-home-still-working-full-time mom, and I can’t seem to keep my two children occupied, much less actually learning, or keep myself organized enough to get all the things done in a day.
First, I would say, if the sentence above speaks to your soul then you should go sit in your bathroom or bedroom–wherever you can hide away from the chaos–for a few minutes and breathe. Most importantly, your children need to feel safety and love from you today and every day. Finding ways to discover calm within your day can go a long way.
Second, this post isn’t about how to discover your calm so…moving on now. (But, please, find time and space for your mind to rest).
As a speech-language pathologist, I am amazed by how our children seem to magically learn speech and language skills without any specific instruction. However, there are times when these skills don’t seem to happen overnight as they do for other children. You can encourage language and literacy skills while you are
stuck at your home enjoying time at home with your children.
- Talk about the obvious things in your day. Have you noticed that teachers of young children often talk about the day of the week, the month of the year, and the weather every day? This is a great way to introduce language and an understanding of time. Side note: This may also help you remember what day it is. Ha! Talking about the weather will bring your attention to the outdoors where you can discuss other things like animals you may see or neighbors taking a walk.
- Let your children help you bake and cook while you are home. This has so many benefits related to expanding a child’s willingness to try new foods. It also introduces language that you might not otherwise use: measurements, various ingredients, and utensils.
- If your child can’t read yet, have them “read” a book by making up the story they think is happening. This is a great way to encourage storytelling skills. If you have a child that can read, have them read aloud and stop them in a random spot to ask them what they think happens next. Talk about multiple options of what could happen and then turn the page to see who was right.
- Play “I Spy” in your house, on a nature trail, or while walking in your neighborhood. Encourage children to use age-appropriate descriptive words. For young children, color and size might be best. For older children, they can really spice things up by saying something like “I spy with my little eye something…as thin as my finger” or “…that would fit in my water bottle.”
- This last recommendation may be the most important. Make sure you and your family are doing the best you can to get rest at night and take breaks from learning during the day. Remember that our bodies need to recharge so that our minds can be fresh and ready to learn. Children need space to get up and dance during the day. This goes for parents, too!
At the end of the day, we are all in this social distancing/quarantine/isolation thing together. I hope you are encouraged by these suggestions. Let loose, have fun, and enjoy some language learning with your little ones.
Melanie Stinnett, MS, CCC-SLP is the owner of TheraCare Outpatient Services. She graduated with a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Missouri State University in May 2010. She has worked in a variety of settings including acute/inpatient care, inpatient rehabilitation, home health care, skilled nursing facilities, and outpatient services. In this continuum of care, Melanie has worked with seasoned professionals who shaped her skills and expertise. She is passionate about serving others and increasing the community’s opportunities to find skilled speech therapy services in an area with a high need for these services.