It’s January. The holidays are over, kids are back in school, and you may be tired of the cold weather or of being cooped up in the house. Being in the moment can help get you and your family through the winter.
What is mindfulness?
Put simply, it’s being present in the moment.
Multi-tasking, juggling schedules, and thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. Practicing mindfulness engages your attention from those things and help you better engage with your surroundings. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can improve physical health and fulfilling relationships.
How do we practice mindfulness?
Through meditation: find a comfortable place to sit on the floor with your back to the wall. Focus on slowing your breathing down, and feel the air move in and out of your body through your nose. Try out a meditation app for your iPhone or Android.
Bird Watching – connect with nature and sharpen your observation skills. Be on the lookout for birds while walking through the park or around your home.
Eat Mindfully – take the time to appreciate your food. Practice by eating a piece of chocolate. Use your senses to discover how the chocolate looks, feels, and smells. Let the chocolate melt on your tongue slowly to savor the taste.
Get Crafty – concentrated, repetitive movement can help align both sides of your mind. Try knitting or knotting mala beads.
As winter gives way to spring, remember to step back and look at the changing surroundings. Be aware of the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Who knows what you may notice.
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child’s sense – touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. Children use their senses to make sense of the world around this. Development and fostering of their senses help children explore their worlds and retain information about their surroundings.
Why is sensory play important?
Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks.
Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
TLC Speech Therapy uses multiple forms of sensory play to help your child grow and develop. These include:
- This type of play aids in developing and enhancing memory
- Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child
- This helps children learn sensory attributes (hot, cold, sticky, dry)
- (Source: https://www.educationalplaycare.com/blog/sensory-play-important-development/)
DIR–Floortime: when parents interact with their child on the child’s level, in a natural play context that is child-led;
Behavioral Play Therapy: which helps children become aware of their feelings, increase attention skills, and enhance problem-solving skills;
Gross Motor Play and Posture Supports: facilitates the upright posture and cognitive/physical relationships important for speech.
Now that autumn is finally here, take advantage of the opportunities to integrate fall colors, sights, and smells into play with your child. Let your child touch and feel various textures, like a leaf or tree bark. Finger paint a fall landscape with trees and changing leaf colors. Create a sensory play bin filled with various shapes, textures, and colors.
See the list below for more sensory play activities to engage in with your child.
August is the prime time to visit the farmer’s market for beautiful fruits and vegetables in Southern California. TLC’s August theme is “Taste the Farmer’s Market.” Visiting the farmer’s market or grocery store with your child is a great way to engage them in learning about healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Food rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals help support health growth and development. While introducing new foods to your child make take quite a few tries, TLC has you covered with fun activities for the entire family!
For after school snacks, try the rainbow approach – banana slices, carrots, and apples – to give them the energy and nutrients they need to keep growing and learning.
- Play BINGO at the farmer’s market!
- Use this great printout to identify familiar and new produce.
- Follow the 3 E’s to eating – Expose, Explore, Expand
- For more reading about the 3 E’s click here
- Try out a recipe with your kids with your bounty from the market
- This is a great salad with fresh ingredients!
- Use the LA Time’s tool to find the closest farmer’s market to you.
Summer is here, and that means fun, sun, and no school! We at TLC want you to enjoy your summer, with plenty of fun activities, while also staying safe.
Whether you’re spending time with your kids or sending them off to camp, remember to practice sun safety. The CDC recommends the following to protect you and your family from the sun’s harmful rays.
Seek shade, especially during midday hours. This includes 10 am to 4 pm, March through October. Be extra careful around surfaces that reflect the sun’s rays, like snow, sand, water, and concrete. Wear sun protection gear like a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants or a long skirt for additional protection when possible. If that’s not practical, try wearing a T-shirt or a beach cover-up.
Apply a thick layer of broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher at least 15 minutes before going outside, even on cloudy or overcast days. Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
And if you need ideas of how to keep your kids occupied, we’re here to help!
- Take your child to the park for a picnic.
- Attend story time at your local public library.
- Read to/with your child.
- Bake cookies together.
- Play a board game together.
- Take your child to the farmer’s market and point out all the different fruits and vegetables.
- Color in coloring books together.
- You can also check out this list of free things to do in Los Angeles this summer.
If you’re still coming up blank, here’s a list of 101 summer activities for kids!
Using music in speech and language therapy can be very effective to increase communication skills. While speech therapy is more well known, music therapy is still a powerful tool to promote language development.
Why is collaborate between these two areas important? They both benefit your child’s overall well-being.
5 similarities between music and language:
What are some ways to introduce music to your child?
- Music and Language are universal and specific to humans
- Both have pitch, timbre, rhythm, and durational features
- Spontaneous speech and spontaneous singing typically develop within infants at approximately the same time.
- Music and language have auditory, vocal, and visual uses (both use written systems) and are built on structure and rules.
- Distinct forms of music and language exist and vary across cultures
- Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- Make an instrument with your child – from drums to rain sticks, there are many options to try!
- Pick up a musical library book – try Wheels on the Bus or Old MacDonald.
- Add Toddler Radio (meant for children 4 and under) to your Pandora station and listen with your child.
Each May, we raise awareness about communication delays, and how TLC Speech Therapy provides life-changing treatment. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has selected “Communication Across the Lifespan” as this year’s theme.
We have provided a variety of resources below to help you celebrate and raise awareness all month long.
Identify the Signs
Communication Disorders in Infants
Communication Disorders in Toddlers/Preschoolers
Communication Disorders in School-Aged Children
Music is more than just a fun thing to do with your child. Music is therapy. A therapy that can increase communication, socialization and support the communication goals of your child at TLC! Music Therapy helps with:
Music Therapy Defined
- Gross and Fine Motor Skills
- Emotional Expression
Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. Music therapy provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: facilitating movement, increasing children’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for children and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.
Use Music For…
Communication and Socialization
When you are singing songs at home with your child choose a certain/ or certain words to leave out and have them fill in the blank in the song: This not only has your child verbalizing/ vocalizing words but also demonstrates their receptive abilities and that they are listening to you and capable of call and response. Think of it like conversation through song. Adding pitch or tone to words helps create a target for the brain, making the word retrieval or imitation easier.
Let the instrument help your child stretch and grow. Move the instrument above them, below them then right to left to get gross motor movement across the body plains. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to practice location phrases. Let your child grasp a shaker or a mallet. Think of this as beginning practice for holding a fork or pencil correctly and independently.
Music can be a great way to validate how your child is feeling and express those feelings in a creative way. Find music that matches their mood and encourage that expression. Your child can communicate those feelings through the music when they might not be able to use their words. This provides your child with a feeling of being understood and heard.
If you’re interested in more cutting edge information helping ensure your kids reach their full potential please sign up for TLC’s email list. As a special gift from TLC Speech Language Therapy we’ll send you our Birth to 5 communication milestone chart. It’s information you can use!