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Tools to Develop Your Child’s Language Skills – A Review

My son’s Junior school recently hosted a series of workshops led by published poet and author Colin Macfarlane. Over the course of several weeks all the year-groups were given the opportunity to draw literary inspiration from their work with the poet. The sessions culminated in a Literacy Celebration Evening where enthusiastic students performed the resulting poetry for an audience including parents, grandparents and teachers. As a parent of one of the children invited to perform I could not have been prouder of the achievements of my son and his school. The superb quality of some of the poetry written by the children actually threatened to bring a tear to my eye.

This led me to consider the importance of developing language and communication skills in everyday life as a platform for creative writing. As my three sons get on so well (most of the time!), I am happy to leave them to their own devices to play together, watch television or play a computer game as a means of relaxing after school. They can be quite independent of me and therefore my younger boys don’t benefit from as much adult interaction as my eldest did.

I was recently sent a review copy of the ‘Chatting with Children’ activity pack which is produced by the children’s communication charity, ‘I can’, so this was a great opportunity for me to spend some one-to-one time with my 3 year old with the added bonus of helping him to further develop his language skills.

Chatting with Children is a pack of 30 activity cards aimed at helping parents and practitioners develop communication skills in children aged 3-5. It offers simple and effective ways of enhancing speaking, listening and understanding skills. Each activity card focuses on a different aspect of communication.

We particularly enjoyed What’s that sound? card from the ‘Listening and Attention’ section. I placed various ‘noisy’ items on the table including screwed up paper, a wooden spoon, a tub of raisins and a part filled bottle. Zu closed his eyes while I made a sound with one of the objects and he had to guess which one it was. We then changed over. As the game progressed we made it more difficult by adding more items and muffling the sound by making the noise under the table.  We had fun doing it and we enjoyed developing the game to suit our own level. This is such a simple idea but with 30 cards there’s huge scope for wholesome play. The neatly boxed set of cards also appeals to my de-cluttering side. There are also suggestions on adapting each activity if your child is finding it too easy or too hard.

Kate Freeman, I CAN Communication Advisor and experienced paediatric speech and language therapist says:

Given the right support, many children learn to talk without too much effort. There’s a golden age for learning to talk – this is before 5½ and so skills learnt at this age bring great benefits later on. Evidence has shown the early years to be a vital time for supporting all children’s communication, as well as a time to identify any difficulties and put support in place to improve a child’s overall life chances.

Sets start from £7.99. All proceeds go towards I CAN’s work with the 1.2 million children in the UK who have long-term speech, language and communication difficulties. To find out more about purchasing this pack or others in the series, please visit www.ican.org.uk/bookshop.

Any parent with a question or concern about their child’s communication can contact the I CAN Help Enquiry Service for a call or email from a speech and language therapist – visit www.ican.org.uk/help

Do you have any special techniques for encouraging your child’s communication skills?


I received no payment for this article.

I received a set of ‘Chatting with Children’ cards for the purposes of the review.

2 comments… add one
  • rachel 17/11/2012, 15:55

    The poetry evening sounds amazing. We liked what’s the sound too and played it both with household objects and musical instruments.

    • Jane 17/11/2012, 19:45

      I was very impressed with the poetry evening. Shame you had already emigrated and couldn’t make it!
      I think the ‘Chatting with Children’ cards are perfect for encouraging lots of old fashioned games. Lots of them remind me of the sort of things my sister and I would have invented when there were less technological distractions around.

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