If you would like to read Homeschooling with Language Delay part 1, go here
It’s been a month since I first wrote about how we decided to change up our homeschool routine and focus more on communication skills with my oldest son, who is 5 years and 3 months, to help him overcome his language delay. The dialogue on that post was so encouraging to me at just the time when I needed it. It was with a lot of hope, and a little trepidation, that I began make language and communication the focus. I was hoping it would work, and I chose not to expect instant results.
At first, I thought to continue going through the alphabet with him, reviewing letters, colors, and shapes so he wouldn’t forget what he’d learn; but I quickly decided to make language the 100% focus for now. I realized that once in school, they’d go through all that again with him.
Language had to come front-and-center so that he could make friends and enjoy his school.
He loves school.
He really loves school. And I want him to continue to love it. But I know that the only way that will happen is for him to be able to comprehend, follow through and communicate back what is required.
At first I chose his favorite story books and toys to guide our process. We played with Duplo blocks, put together train tracks, and read Thomas the Train and Clifford.
Soon, I stopped reading and just asked him questions about the pictures, guiding him through saying complete sentences. And he would repeat after me. Soon, he began to try to do it on his own.
There are a few things I’ve noticed over the past month.
1. We were not aware of how much we were allowing him to get away with just saying one word to convey a wish or demand. Now we require him to try to tell us in complete sentences what he wants. If he doesn’t know how, we help him through.
2. How much this had affected his relationships with other children.
3. How much more we need to both self-talk and parallel talk.
We are a month into this new format and the changes are astounding. After only one week I began to notice changes. He began trying to speak in sentences and at home he did very well. However, we noticed that when he was a church or playing with neighborhood children, he would still use baby talk.
Then last weekend something clicked. In Sunday School he didn’t use baby talk once. He clearly spoke with the children, sometimes using complete sentences, and the children could understand him. This entire week we’ve been outside with the neighborhood friends and he has done remarkably well!
Not once this week has he spoken in baby talk, he tries very hard to use complete sentences and while he still isn’t at a 5-year old level as far as communication is concerned, he has improved drastically over the past month!
This week I began something new.
I knew that with spring and warmer weather, we’d want to be outside more. I’m cool with that. Being outside removes the distraction of the T.V. and tablet, it keeps them from feeling bored, and they are with friends who will help him grow in his communication and interaction. All positives.
But I still wanted us to do school.
I am planning on schooling year-round until he enters Kindergarten.
I decided I would use the Bible as my central theme, and from the Bible stories choose keywords that will become our focus words for the week. Not only am I a believer that the Bible should be central in learning, it is easy with Bible stories to find keywords for nature…being outside….using our yard as the classroom!
During the month of April our two Bible stories are:
Adam and Eve & Noah
Keywords: Spring, flowers, leaves, trees, wood, earth, garden, fruit, vegetables, plant, grass, and boat.
Of course, he knows many of these words already, but the idea is to help him to use them in everyday communication. We have story books with these words and concepts and we can even do art – by finding leaves left over in the yard, grass clipping, sticks and things, we can do collages, he can plant flowers, and so on.
What’s also fun is that we have an apple and plum seedling that are flowering right now – so he can watch that whole process take place (we should have plums this year. We had couple grow last year).
This week something new happened. Because I’m using a lot of repetition, by the 3rd or 4th day the story is very familiar to him. I read about Adam and Eve from the Bible one morning and asked him what the story was about.
He began to communicate back to me.
Sure, the words he used were many of the keywords from the story. They weren’t in sequence, nor did they make sense in the order that he used them. But he did try to use words like, “…and then…”, tried to form a very long and complete sentence on his own without help from me.
I didn’t correct him. I just congratulated him and then repeated back what I thought he was trying to say.
The result was that he felt very proud and empowered to try again!
I will leave you with this, what I don’t feel I do well is singing with him. Because I’ve chosen to make Croatian our primary language, I don’t know many songs in Croatian.
So now you know what my homework is for the next month!
Does your child have language or speech delay? Have you chosen to try to resolve this at home, and not take him to speech therapy? What are you doing that works?