7 Tips for improving Children Language skills during Covid-19
COVID-19 pandemic has been a life-altering experience for most of us. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have become deprived of urgent medical care that undermines healthcare facilities. Especially in a middle-income country like Pakistan, an indifferent attitude of public, limited testing capacity and poor healthcare infrastructure has added fuel to the fire.
Impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare sector
The pandemic has particularly affected the medical services related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). While social distancing, wearing facial protective equipment, and work from home have become the new normal, challenges to the healthcare sector have also increased.
Speech therapy and pandemic
Just like all other sectors of the healthcare industry, speech therapy practices are also badly affected. Communication problems have even become worse for the patients already having troubles with social interactions.
How to improve language skills in children with speech and language disorders?
I recently got in touch with a friend who was getting speech therapy for her daughter from a renowned speech therapist in Islamabad before the pandemic. Based on her experience, she shared some useful tips regarding the maintenance of social connection in children during the times of social distancing. Some of these tips include;
1- Utilizing screen time
Spending more at home means a significant increase in screen usage time among the children. Previously, screen time was associated with speech and language delays among the children. However, there is always room for improvement as parents can positively utilize the screen time. You can use social media, movies, TV to improve interaction with children by questioning them about it.
2- Creative activities
As previously reported, creative activities can play an effective role in the development of speech and learning abilities among children. While all forms expressive and imaginative have become virtual, you can engage your child in several creative activities. You can try
- Indoor camping night
- Planning a garden
- Online drawing, singing and cooking tutorials based on the child’s interest
3- Connecting virtually
Unquestionably, staying at home is limiting our social interactions to a greater extent. However, it has created more opportunities for virtual connectivity. Well, you can use many online applications to connect your child to their friends and family members.
3- Create conversational opportunities
With all the adverse effects of Covid-19 pandemic, more family time during the pandemic is possibly the positive outcome. Spending more time together can create multiple conversational opportunities that have been previously linked with the development of language and conversational skills. You can create more conversational opportunities by
- Using routine activities for casual conversation e.g., storytelling, outdoor playtime and circle game
- Using open-ended questions activities to compel children to speak their mind and express their ideas
- Devoting a particular time window for activities that stimulate the talking ability of children
4- Physical activities
Engaging children in various physical activities can help to cope with their communication problems in an effective manner. Several ways to engage your child in physical activities are;
- Enrolling them in an online kids health program
- Try aerobics or yoga with your child at home
- Discuss the activities with them (i.e. ask them about how did they feel about a particular exercise)
5- Routine tasks
Well, an effective way to tackle the feeling of social isolation among children can be ensuring their participation in routine tasks. You can try;
- Making routine task a group activity
- Asking the child to organize the items
- Hold the child accountable for single routine task daily
6- Connect them to their friends and physician
Another way to work on your child’s speech and language difficulty is by connecting them to their friends and physicians from time to time. My friend, who was getting speech therapy for her daughter in Islamabad, ensured that she kept her virtually connected to the therapist in Family Health Hospital.
Reading is fundamental for speech and language development in children. You can practice reading to your child especially the books that have the repetition of certain problematic words and phrases. You can gradually upgrade the difficulty level of books to make it lightly challenging for the child. Moreover, adding actions and sounds can be a good idea to improve non-verbal communication in a child.