Children and Parents' Corner

In this text, I will go through some of the segments of my work with children hoping that my notes will give you some insight into what I used to apply to working and socializing with my children, and which you may also use to enhance your relationships. Of course, if there is something you can't handle and you've noticed that there is an additional need, you can always turn to a professional for help and support.

Speech Development

I remember that I detected a speech impediment, known as sigmatism, in my daughter when she was two years old and the tip of her tongue protruded out of her mouth when she pronounced the sounds S, Z, and C. Although I was aware that she was too young, I decided to adjust my exercises turning them into a game we used to play together in front of the mirror after bathtime. The correct articulation of these sibilant sounds requires a partition on the teeth, keeping the tongue inside the mouth and behind the teeth. I would wrap a towel around her body after bathing, let her sit on my lap and then we were laughing and playing this game in front of the mirror. I would stamp my feet to catch her attention and make her watch and follow me in the mirror. I would pronounce these sounds in combination with the vowels: SI, SE, SA, SO, SU, and so on for each sound respectively. She could notice her tongue sticking out and going outside her mouth. I would show her the difference in my pronunciation by making a joke about my tongue that can't be heard well when it's outside my mouth. She would laugh. This game would last no more than 5 minutes, and we used to play it every night after bathtime. Later, I would include words containing these sounds positioned at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of a word, to improve her articulation. This took us less than a month and her articulation of these speech sounds was completely right. It was a long time ago, and Lira is 10 years old now.

I told you this story because I think it is crucially important that the children with dyslalia, a speech defect that inhibits the articulation of certain distinct sounds, start seeing a speech therapist regularly. I believe that, in addition to professional consultations, motivated parents can gain adequate and sufficient knowledge on how they can independently contribute to the correction of their children's articulation of sounds. The key to success lies in practice, therefore consistency and perseverance are of great significance. Thus, you can practice while driving a car, while swinging on a swing, or at any other time and I believe you will find fantastic and creative solutions and anywhere and anytime.

When it comes to more complex speech disorders, I recommend the same – timely speech therapy treatments bring the best and fastest results. It'd be great if you could do it IMMEDIATELY as soon as you notice something wrong. That's how you will buy some time. By starting as soon as possible, the time period of articulation and making the bad pronunciation habit is reduced, thus, at the same time, reducing the time necessary for the deautomatization of bad pronunciation. Finally, the time has been bought to achieve the best results by starting school.

Graphomotorics

While working with children on their speech improvement and development, I used a lot of ideas and approaches to make the dull and sometimes demanding process of speech therapy exercises and repetitions of speech sounds fun and easier for them. I noticed rather poor graphomotor skills in most of the children. Then I decided to simultaneously combine repetitions of the pronunciation of sounds and exercises to develop graphomotor skills (attention and concentration). This yielded great results.
In addition to speech, graphomotor skills and abilities are very important as preparation for starting school. Sometimes it's not simply enough to practice in kindergarten. Additional work at home is required. In fact, the development of graphomotor skills starts from the earliest childhood during the play, in the period before using a pen – it starts with using a spoon. That's why a child needs to start the process of independent eating as soon as possible. There are also many fun games and activities to practice fine motor finger skills, such as playing with large and small beads, shoelaces tying, overlap and pull through, cutting and sticking stickers, using pins, and many more. For these purposes, I used some pretty good books which contain a lot of activities for preschool children, including also different types of tasks and exercises to practice graphomotor skills.
I've singled this topic out because it is something you can do with your child with no need of any experts – to spend time together doing exercises or drawing. It's fun, and the child practices and develops attention and concentration slowly and gradually acquires working habits and gets the most important thing – time spent together with you.
In my opinion, a preschool child needs to start the first grade at school as much prepared as possible. Of course, I see the preparation for school as a process of fun, socializing, and acquiring the necessary knowledge through play imperceptibly. Starting school brings about a lot of new things, in fact, everything is new, and the child is faced with a new role in his/her life. That's why it is important not to burden the child by demanding school obligations and requirements so that he/she can focus his/her energy on other things – adjusting to sitting still in class, meeting new friends, teacher's requirements, homework, learning... So, there is plenty of that. If a child starts school unprepared, he/she will spend more energy to achieve all of this, and starting school, as his/her next step to growing up, will not be perceived as something beautiful.

The Play

The play is an essential and powerful resource. It helped me in many situations while working with children. When nothing works, the play is a magical ingredient that opens all the doors. I feel that I have turned into a magician who can achieve through play whatever it takes to reach the goal. While playing, children don't feel like they are doing something difficult, they are aware that they have not been deprived of their freedom, they gain trust in our relationship, they are permitted to say that it is hard for them and to ask for rest/break, and then refreshed they move on. Playing with children we can learn a lot about their world, their needs, their hidden fears, and inner processes. Pause your duties and obligations for a moment and make some time for moments like this – they are invaluable not only to your child, but also to you. Being in touch with the child's energy, you will be enabled to restart from the daily rush. In fact, you will not let their childhood pass you by in the blink of an eye.

By clicking on this link you can find and read my text published in the journal “Original”, as well as more ideas on how to spend quality time with your children.
Free the child inside you to have fun with your child 😉
AniMašta
Anita Marković