A walk in the park : your child's development
Walking in De Waal Park with my children and my dogs reminded me how lucky we are to have such a beautiful and user-friendly space in the area. It also reminded me of the importance of spending unhurried time with our children and made me think about the way, we as parents, could use this space to encourage our children’s development, specifically communication.
Before children learn how to speak, a number of foundations need to be in place first. The first of these is parent-child interaction (PCI) which forms the basis for communication development and is the beginning of the development of skills that will be needed for language, listening and speech development at a later stage. Parent-child interaction includes eye contact, non-verbal communication (touch/ facial expression), imitation, turn-taking, joint attention, and verbal communication at the appropriate level.
The other areas necessary for effective communication are attentionand listening, play, understanding language, using language appropriately and then finally speech production. With an awareness of these areas we can use the resources available in the park to encourage optimal communication development.
Talk to your child whilst walking, running, playing on the playground equipment and really listen to what he or she is saying. An important part of communication is listening and practising good listening behaviour yourself, will encourage your child to be a better listener and help to develop good attention. Make sure you look at your child when he or she is communicating with you and respond to his or her requests, comments and observations in a way that encourages the flow of conversation. Providing a commentary on everything you see, hear, feel, smell and do in the park is a wonderful way of teaching your child new words, modelling appropriate language structures and language use and interacting socially. Enjoy!
About the blogger : Catherine Barry
Catherine Barry is a speech and language therapist who has a special interest in early childhood intervention, autism and Down Syndrome. She works at Polkaspot Early Intervention Centre www.polkaspot.co.za . She has two children aged six and seven and two excitable dogs.