Thursday, September 13, 2012

Speaking without Words

Understanding that words are not the only way to tell a story is something that children learn at a young age, whether they realize it or not.  There are so many times in our lives that we talk WITHOUT using language.  This was a family activity that we could do to explain what we meant - because everything is easier to learn when you're having fun!  A simple game of sherades!  We stuck with animals because that is what our kids know best and that is the easiest to act out.  Even our two year old got in on the action.  He used some sounds, but other than that, he did really good.  I think my favourite was when my daughter kept pushing her nose onto the dresser and when we didn't get it, she said "Peck, peck"  Ahhhh!  Woodpecker!

How else can you learn about gestures?
  • Have a meal when you eat in silence.  Only gestures will be allowed!  For older children, everytime they talk they lose a utensil!
  • People watch!  Sit with your older child on a bench in the park and watch people walk past you.  Watch how people use their hands to talk.
  • As a follow up to the previous activity - video tape yourself and then watch the video to see how many gestures you use in a short period without even knowing.

Next step: Sign Language! At preschool, my daughter actually learns some sign language so we sang those songs together. Then I taught her some new songs. We sang them together all day. That night when daddy came home, she taught him how to do all the signs for the songs. This is a great way to reinforce what they have learned - get them to teach someone else - an adult or another child. Teaching is learning.

We taught both of the kids sign language when they were babies - they have now outgrown it, but it's a wonderful way to get them to communicate when they are unable to talk. At first, I doubted it. I thought that teaching them sign language would stop them from talking when they should. Not an issue. We taught both of the kids the basics for mealtime - Please, Thank You, More and All Done.  There are so many books out there - go to your local library and check a couple out!  It's always to learn new things!

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