Games and activities can be one of the best ways to help your child with a cochlear implant to develop speaking and listening skills. But if you’ve got a young child, under three years, I know that he or she might be easily distracted and unable to follow along with structured activities for very long.
So, I’ve put together this list of eight tips that you can use to get the most out of each game and activity.
1. Don’t get too absorbed
Don’t get too absorbed with the toys or rules because it might distract you from your child. Remember, you’re playing with your child and not at him or her. Let your child lead the game, and follow along with him or her!
2. Ensure understanding
Watch and listen to your child carefully to make sure that he or she understands what you’re saying, and that you also understand what your child wants. This is because in your child’s early days of learning to talk, he or she will best understand what you say when the words and phrases that you use are related to actions occurring at the same time.
3. Free access to toys
Let your child freely go and grab toys and objects, because I’ve found that young children prefer to be active instead of sitting on the side and just watching. By fostering interest and involvement you can help your child to develop ideas to share and communicate; giving your child the ability to choose and have free access to toys can help his or her imagination to grow.
4. Group similar themes
Present toys that are related to each other, together. If you’ve got a plush cat, bring it out along with toys like a bowl, milk, or a ribbon and bell. This lets your child play with all the related toys and allows them to interact with each other. It also gives you the chance to talk about the different interactions, like pretending to be a cat, or commenting on something that happens in the game like saying “now the cat is drinking the milk!”
5. Follow your child’s interests
Young children can only fleetingly follow other people’s interests, so you should keep aware of what your child is interested in right now and follow along with their direction. This could be as simple as mirroring what your child is doing, like both of you pushing around toy cars, but the real goal should be to play together with you as the parent facilitating your child and helping only when your child asks.
6. Be patient
Your child will likely repeat the same action over and over and over, like putting balls into a box and then tipping them out time and time again. This rarely continues to a logical end because your child is still learning about the world. The best that you can do is to be patient, help your child do what they want, and throughout the activity keep talking about what’s going on so your child pairs the words with actions. You may like to show them another way to use the toy, but don’t be disappointed if they keep repeating what they’ve been doing.
7. Feed your child with ideas
When your child seems just about ready to lose interest in an activity, jump in and teach them something new that’s related to what they were doing. For example if your child is playing with a doll and sippy cup, then you could introduce a handkerchief and show your child how to wipe the doll’s mouth.
8. Know when enough is enough
It’s important to keep your child busy and to let him or her always try new things, but this doesn’t mean your child has free reign to behave inappropriately. If your child goes too far, like pouring soap everywhere when you’re cleaning together, the best way that you can respond is to clearly say “No, no, we don’t pour the soap everywhere” And if your child keeps going, just calmly stop the activity and put your materials away.
What’s your favorite game or activity to play with your child? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some other blog posts with example games and activities you can play with your child:
- Listening Games: 5 Ways to Help Your Child Detect Sounds
- Three Dinner Activities to Build Your Child’s Communication Skills
- 5 Activities to Help Develop Your Child’s Theory of Mind Skills
- Cochlear Implant Rehabilitation Activities for the Holiday Season
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