You might be surprised to know that over a million children in the UK struggle with communication difficulties today. That’s 2 or 3 children in every classroom needing specialist help! Making friends, understanding other people and achieving their full potential can be really difficult without essential speech, language and communication skills.
ICAN, the children’s communication charity supports these children and their families and helps to ensure that they receive the help they need. This Spring, 1st- 8th March, ICAN are holding a Chatterbox Challenge Mad Chatters Tea Party fun fundraising event that you can all get involved with. To find an event near you do please look on their website.
Tea parties offer so many great opportunities for children to develop communication skills in a really fun way, whether it’s with their friends, family or just their favourite toys. Kate Freeman, I CAN Communication Advisor and experienced paediatric speech and language therapist, offers a few simple tips for a great ‘communication friendly’ tea party or get together:
Adults can help children develop their communication skills by:
- Getting the child’s attention before speaking to them
- Using natural gestures and signs to support the meaning of words and sentences
- Get down to the child’s level to talk to them
- Give the child plenty of time to say what they want to say. Listen more than you talk, then respond to what the child is saying
- Encourage the children at the tea party to talk and play together – they can also ask each other what they would like (offering and responding to choice, especially food and drink, is communication at its most meaningful).
Here are some of her lovely ideas for games you can play at your tea party or get-together.
Fun games to play at parties to develop children’s communication skills:
- Singing and rhyming songs – are a great way to help children learn vocabulary and have fun making music together
- Playing clapping games (Pat-a-Cake) – this helps children to develop their coordination, control and movement as well as learning vocabulary and social skills
- Word Games (Simon Says and I Spy) – this helps to develop children’s vocabulary about the world around them and to listen to instructions (These games can be adapted to easier versions for younger children)
- Turn taking games (Pass the Parcel) – this helps children to learn when to talk and when to listen
- Imaginative play like toys’ tea parties – this helps children to expand their language for use in a range of situations and develop their creativity.
Here are some of the children at I CAN’s Meath school, for children with severe and complex speech, language and communication needs, having a wonderful time with Humf at the launch Chatterbox Challenge Tea Party.
Perhaps you’ll be able to join in with a local tea party or start your own? We’ve been making these tasty iced biscuits which we think would be great at any tea party.
How To Make Iced Biscuits
For The Biscuits
- 225g softened butter
- 140g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 280g plain flour
For The Icing
- Sugar pastes in a selection of colours. (If you don’t have any sugar pastes a simple icing made from icing sugar and water would be just as nice.)
- 2 large baking trays
- cling film
- grease-proof paper
- teacup and teapot cutters
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Line the baking trays with grease-proof paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg.
- Add the flour and mix to form a firm dough.
- Wrap in cling film and pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill.
- Roll out on a lightly floured board to about 3mm thickness. Cut your shapes and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- When completely cold decorate with your chosen icing.
- Encourage your little one to offer one to each of his friends at your tea party.
Any parent or practitioner with a question or concern about a child’s communication or for more information on children’s communication development, can contact the I CAN Help Enquiry Service for a call or email from a speech and language therapist – visit www.ican.org.uk/help
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