Teach Speech has some exciting news!  We have recently become part of the Teachers Pay Teachers world.  This website is designed for teachers to be able to upload things they have created for FREE and for SALE!  Then, teachers (or homeschooling parents or parents who love to do activities with their kids, etc) can log on and look for pre-made activities and pay the TEACHERS who have created them rather than the CORPORATIONS who put them out!  How neat is that?  We will continue to be creating materials for FREE, but we have also been working on several BIG projects that we will now have a forum to sell on.  We are not quite ready to debut our thematic units (based on favorite children's books), but will start putting up some of our smaller projects - check it out as we hope to have new and exciting things up each day!

Click here to find the link directly to our store!
I took a blog-break last week.  I was on vacation at my parents' house and thought about blogging, but couldn't quite pull myself away from my 5 week old cousin who was also visiting.  What a precious delight it was to hold her.  But now I'm back... and I'd like to think, "and better than ever", but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

TV.  Oh those two letters have so much behind them.  Is it ok?  How much is too much?  What programs should be allowed?  These questions come up all the time.  I am a mom of a very active 8 month old.  I'm more prone to read and knit, but do I ever want to sit in front of the TV and "veg" out some nights?  Sure!  However, do I let my son veg on TV?  No way!  

As a speech therapist (and a mom), I suggest that kids not watch TV (not even baby learning videos) from birth until age 2.  There are several reasons.  The first is that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children not watch TV at all from birth to age 2 (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/pages/Where-We-Stand-TV-Viewing-Time.aspx).  Secondly, I have read in the past that kids under the age of 2 do not see the flashes of color on the screen like we do.  Their little brains can't interpret the colors fast enough to know what they are looking at on the screen.  They say that their little brains get overloaded and it simply shuts down.  So instead of learning, they too are "vegging" in front of the TV.  Therefore, even the baby learning DVDs that move slowly and show the child the name of the object and the object at the same time are not better than you yourself doing that.  Watch your child (or any small child) sometime.  They will take a new object and stare at it for a long time.  He/She needs that time to see it clearly and figure it out.  They are learning with their hands (how it feels), their eyes (what they see), their mouth (what it feels like and tastes like), their ears (what does it sound like when it shakes) - all these things are not available when its being viewed via the television.  Lastly, children need HUMAN INTERACTION.  The TV, even though it has humans on the screen, is NOT human interaction.

Now, what about kids ages 2 and older?  Again, the AAP suggests 1-2 hours of AGE APPROPRIATE shows after the age of 2 (same link as above:  http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/pages/Where-We-Stand-TV-Viewing-Time.aspx).  Watch an adult show and pay attention to every time the stimulus changes.  What do I mean by that?  A stimulus change could be:  camera zooming in or out, camera angle change, change scene all together, dialogue when both speakers are not in the picture and so the screen flashes back and forth, etc.  You will notice that the stimulus is changing every few seconds, on average.  Our children are very vulnerable and their minds can be trained very easily.  Adult TV with their fast stimulus changes can actually show a child that his/her stimulus should also change as rapidly.  What happens when that child sits down to play with a toy?  It may not change enough for them and they may lose interest.

Alright, what about older kids and teenagers?  My suggestion is always less TV.  Turn it off and learn what's going on around you.  Play outdoors.  Play a game.  Games teach kids many things like:  social rules (taking turns, being patient, winning gracefully, losing without pouting), counting, matching, colors, strategy, etc.  Plus, the more interaction you have with your child the more opportunities you have to teach him/her.

Turn off the tube and play with your little ones!
Auditory highlighting is something that can be used to help clue kids into the important things they should hear.  When you use a highlighter on a page, you are making key phrases or ideas stand out from the rest.  You want to do the same thing with your voice with your using auditory highlighting.  You do this by making the key word a little bit louder, more drawn out, and a bit more high pitched.  You are giving emphasis to that word.  Something like this:  "Dylan, give me the red car".  Now Dylan knows to the get the red one and not the blue one or yellow one.  

When would you use auditory highlighting?  You can use it when you are trying to introduce a new topic to a child of any language level.  If you working with prepositions you may want to highlight the preposition (the block is under the table.)  You can use it when you're reading to your child to help him/her pick out the most important details.  You may then want to go back and ask comprehension questions and see if the verbal emphasis helped your child to remember the information.

Practice this the next time you are working with your child!  See if he/she clues into the important things you're saying.  Don't forget to have fun!