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What's In Store for the Holidays?

By Maureen Penko

Remembrance Day has just past, the wind is brisk and we have snow. Cold and flu season is in full swing with a search for Tylenol and Advil liquid for infants. The news tells us it's time to mask up, but that should not deter us from taking precautions and preparing for the fun ahead. The holiday festivities are weeks away and our older children are practicing songs for the holidays, preparing the classroom hampers and creating art work to share with their families.

Parents of the two to four-year old's are going to their doctors for the annual checkups and one of the questions asked is how is your child's speech developing. It is an important question that makes us think about how many words our child is saying, how they are communicating, how well we understand their message and what our child is understanding.

The aspect of being aware of your child's hearing responses is important when the question is asked about are they following directions and understanding what you are asking them. The auditory sense, takes sounds that are transmitted from the inner ear through the eight cranial nerve and transfers it to the brain where meaning is made.

During the time that your child has a cold the ear tube called the eustachian tube can become easily plugged when the nose drains. Remember saying ìI feels as if I am in a fog" is what the child experiences. A temporary hearing loss which is conductive in nature is something we all have experienced at some point in time. During a cold and nasal congestion, a situation can be created where fluid may sit in middle ear (the conduction area) and not drain properly. The transmission is affected and speech sounds are muffled with hearing reduced by 20decibels. This makes words difficult to discriminate clearly and can affect the production of sounds. Sometimes balance can also be affected if the fluid is long standing. Most often this clears up but if there are multiple colds, congestion, and ear infections, keeping a close monitor of your child hearing is important. Not all children who have long standing fluid necessarily get ear infections which is why the ear checkup is important when speech is affected.

As speech language pathologists this is the first area we ask the parents to check out when a they say my child is not saying much, or their speech is not clear.

So, now let's shift our thinking to what's in store for the holidays, we know that children love to be read to or read with. When a parents is involved in reading the words they see and hear , data has shown that there is a direction connection in the increased interest in reading.

Reading provides a foundation for language development. Speech and language can be modelled when you read to your child. For the holidays, develop a love of books by creating a little library for your child. Your family will be delighted to select a book from a gift list you created to purchase. Get prepared by creating a small library from a cardboard box in the bedroom. Decorate it with your child to help What joy the pictures and words will bring to a young child as they select their favourite book.

You can develop recognition of pictures, pointing skills, single words through word repetition, and memory through hearing the story repeatedly and imagination.

The interactive books allow for an element of surprise ìguess what!" or promotion of texture words such as scratchy, soft, bumpy and more.

For the toddler look for books with pictures that are inviting, the text is brief and ones with flaps. This draws them into books such as Spot's first Christmas or That's not my Polar Bear or Are you there little Reindeer? By Usborne Books.

For the older child there's is so much vocabulary and ideas to promote as they progress from age three to four.

Books with traditions such as the ìTwas the Night before Christmas" can be read and the participation in the home decorating will add more excitement. The learning of new words should be dynamic and interactive so a child can experience them as in the book Room for a Little One A Christmas Tale.

Use words repeatedly during play such as cozy, snuggling, fuzzy, warm, relaxing or when cooking together as is shared in the book Queen of the Hannukah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg which is full of fun, traditions and celebration.

Around the holiday season certain foods are made and children associate the food with a holiday time of the year such as creating the Gingerbread House. During the season, traditions are taught as well as an appreciation for learning, about different cultures when we read Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin or my First Kwanza by Karen Katz.

Holiday stories build imagination as in the book The Polar Bear Express or the book of anticipation in Dream Snow by Eric Carle where a farmer settles down for a nap and wonders how Christmas can come with no snow. The Dreidle that wouldn't spin by Martha Self Simpson shares the happiness and joy of the Hannukah Miracle.

It is important to keep, in mind that your use of voice and tone when you read lends to the engagement of the child, stirs emotions and keeps them wanting you to read more.

Let me see if I can share that enthusiasm with you as we hear these lines from When it snows by Richard Collinridge " and I can go there every day(whisper) because my favourite book takes me there."

Don't forget to have fun and check out this site for activities you can do indoors

Nine Fun Holiday Activities For Kids

Have a fun and safe holiday and see you in the New Year 2023.
Maureen Penko

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