As a parent, you have all the language you need to help your child with hearing loss gain listening, talking and literacy skills to reach the 40 million word goal. Here are some strategic, fall-themed tips for sharing conversation and making the most out of language in your day-to-day LSL adventures.
Fall brings about many changes - shorter days, cooler temperatures, more layers of clothing, Fall colors and, of course, Halloween! If your child has a hearing loss and your goal is to get to 40 million words, Fall is a wonderful time to make the most of the season’s vocabulary, language and opportunities for conversation.
Your child gains language from the experiences they share with you. The great news is that you already have all the language you need, stored neatly in your own brain. How then, do you get language from your brain to your child’s brain in a way that supports auditory learning? Through conversation! This Fall, as you take a walk in the park or woods, read a favorite Halloween book or select a pumpkin at the store consider all of the ways your child can hear about, experience and learn the language around your favorite Fall activities. Here are some tips for making the most out of language in your Fall adventures.
Thoughts of Fall can bring words associated with the season (leaves, cold, pumpkins, ghosts). Words gain meaning and momentum when used in a bigger context and your child’s brain is wired to hear words in phrases and sentences to expand meaning for everything they experience. Practice saying something like:
“Woooo, I hear a ghost. He’s floating in the air.”
A leaf is much more that just a leaf. If you look at it closely, a leaf has veins and a stem, is attached to a branch which is part of a tree. That tree has bark to protect it and roots in the soil. The list could go on and on! Your child’s brain is constantly making connections and building an organized system of knowledge for their world and they need to hear all of these words from you to make the connections as they touch and explore their world, including the leaf that fell from the tree.
If you’re carving a pumpkin, experience the moment and the descriptors will come on their own. You can try starting from the outside in. Remember to use words for the senses (sounds, feels, smells, looks, tastes):
Outside: “It goes thunk. It’s orange and round. The pumpkin feels cool and smooth.” Inside: “It sound’s squishy. It feels slimy. The inside of the pumpkin looks stringy.”
As your child learns Fall concepts and vocabulary, practice by playing the ‘I’m Thinking’ game. Here’s an example:
I’m thinking of something that’s a squash. It’s orange and round with a stem and we carve it.”
This allows your child to build a mental picture through listening.
Your child needs to hear the same words, phrases and sentences multiple times. When you’re on your way home, eating dinner or getting ready for bed, talk about your experiences.
“Do you remember where that leaf came from? I loved seeing the veins on the leaf when we held it up to the light.”
You can always tape a leaf into your experience book, talk through your experience and write down what your child tells you.
Talk about your favorite Fall or Halloween books and the decorations you might see at the store or on the neighbor’s lawn.
“You’re right, that is a ghost. We saw a giant ghost in front of the neighbor’s house yesterday.”
Remember, you already have the language your child needs to help them develop age appropriate listening and spoken language. As you approach any season, event, routine or activity, the way you think about and discuss your shared experiences together can make a big difference in your child’s ability to listen, learn, understand and talk about their world. Download our Fall Fun Ideas handout for a list of activities you can do to create learning opportunities for your child with hearing loss!
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Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Thousands of parents have been in your shoes. Find other parents who can share from experience, offer encouragement, and help your family reach your LSL goals.
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