Spring is here! Birds are singing, flowers are blooming,
and your child is ready to explore!
The best way to promote your child’s language is to talk/sign with them and expose them to a wide variety of concepts and experiences. Going on walks with your child provides a unique opportunity to practice listening skills, spoken language skills and new signs!
Strategies for an interactive walk
Talk about what you observe, what you see, and what you hear.
Notice how young children will often point out an airplane before you even register that you hear it? Usually this is because young listeners are still learning how to filter out sounds, whereas adults are already adept at doing so.
For children with hearing loss, especially those who are newly amplified/implanted, these background sounds are even more notable (and often interfering).
One important strategy to use with your little ones is to label the sounds they are hearing so they learn over time that these are sounds that they can ignore/do not have as much importance as other sounds (such as when someone is talking to them).
Pay attention to what your kids are noticing, point to the object with them, label what it is, and make the sound if you can. For instance:
Those are birds flying in the air! They go ‘cheep-cheep.’
That’s a crow! They say ‘caw!’
That’s a truck driving backwards! When it goes backwards, it goes ‘beep-beep-beep’ to keep people safe.
The ambulance is on its way to help people. Its siren says ‘wee-oo-wee-oo!’ Make sure you stay out of the way!
Don’t be afraid to get creative!
As your child gets older, play I Spy! You can play this as you walk by describing what you see and encouraging your child to find it!
I Spy something that is big and blue
I Spy a red circle
You can also build in audiological components too:
I Spy something that goes vroom!
I Spy an animal that is small and says cheep-cheep
As always, Safety First!
Be explicit about some safety rules (as they get older, be sure to explain the WHYs of these rules). These safety tips should be discussed before you go on a walk. Take the time to practice some of these skills at home!
- Look both ways when crossing the street
- Look to the left, then to the right, then to the left again. This makes sure there are no cars coming before you cross the street. It keeps you safe.
- Holding hands when crossing the street
- We hold hands when crossing the street to make sure you are safe. People driving cars can’t see you because you are little and you could get hurt.
- Staying on one side of the sidewalk/be aware of surroundings
- Always look around to see if someone is coming behind you. Sometimes it is hard to hear when someone comes up from behind, and we want to make sure everyone stays safe.
- If you see someone coming, you should move to one side so they can pass.
Some considerations to keep in mind…
Noise level. If possible, go for walks on a trail or on side streets. Avoid busier roads – for safety reasons, of course, but also because of the noise level. Background noise can be interfering and makes for a terrible listening environment; your child will not be able to access as much when there are cars intermittently driving by.
If your child is walking: Keep in mind that they are at a different level than you are. Make sure they are aware that you are talking and can hear you- you may need to pause during your walks, bend down to their level to ensure that they can access what you’re saying.
If your child is in a stroller: If you have a stroller where your child is facing you, this might be helpful for communication purposes. If they’re facing away from you, you might need to make some adjustments during your walk. Continue to be aware of background noise, pause and bend down next to them to describe what you’re observing/seeing/hearing. If your child has a personal FM system (Roger/Mini Mic) this could be a good time to try it out.
If your child is in a carrier: Continue to make sure they have appropriate visual and/or auditory access. If they are facing away from you, try to make sure that you are talking on the side that provides for optimal auditory access.
What’s the weather like?:
It is no secret that the weather is quite unpredictable in the Spring. And as it gets warmer out, we see more late-afternoon/early-evening rain showers. Be sure you remain aware of the weather and prepare for rain when you are out! Most of your child’s listening technology should be at least water-resistant, which means a little bit of rain won’t hurt. If there is a downpour or if you plan to be out in the rain for a while, make sure your child has a hat or a hood to help protect their devices from the water. If nothing is available, take the devices off and put them somewhere they can stay dry. Any time your child’s devices get wet (or sweaty!), be sure to put devices in the dry-aid when you get home (or at the end of the day)!
Special COVID-19 Consideration – Using Face Coverings/Masks:
During COVID-19 (as of April 20th), it is recommended (and in some places, mandated) that people over the age of 2 wear face coverings/masks to help prevent spreading (see CDC Website here). This is a wonderful safety precaution, but makes communicating with children/individuals with hearing loss VERY difficult. Please continue to be aware of how this may complicate communication and brainstorm ideas that feel comfortable for you and your family to address this. We are always available to talk through possible solutions with you!