This is a review post. We were supplied with an iCan Chatting with Children for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.
“Interacting with children as part of their daily routine is absolutely essential for their mental, social and emotional development. Today, a huge number of children are starting school at a serious disadvantage because of underdeveloped communication abilities.” ican. This statistic makes me really sad.
I first came across iCan the charity when our Health Visitor gave us the “Chatter Matters” DVD at Littlebits 1 year developmental review. The DVD is presented by Dr Tanya Byron from The House of Tiny Tearaways and gives loads of brilliant ideas for communication with your child. I already thought I was really hot on this sort of stuff, but I still learnt some things and came away with lots of ideas for aiding my still developing preemie’s communication.
Then recently I was asked to review their Chatting with Children pack. It’s a beautifully presented pack of 30 roughly A5 sized fun and interactive activity cards aimed at helping parents develop young children’s communication skills. It also contains a handy top tips activity guide. It offers simple and effective ways of enhancing speaking, listening and understanding skills. The cards are divided into five category skills:
- Listening and attention
- Understanding what is said
- Learning and using new words
- Speaking in Sentences
- Talking Socially
Although the activities are aimed at three to five year olds Littlebit was fine with them at 2 years old.
In the activity guide there’s a really good week by week planner, designed for practitioners really but I found this really useful for planning the sessions.
Each card has an activity to develop a different aspect of communication. The pack is available in hardback (£12.99) or paperback (£7.99) from www.ican.org.uk/bookshop. You can also buy it as part of a communication paperback boxset by I CAN – the Early Talkers Boxset (£19.99). The boxset contains the original Babbling Babies and Toddler Talk as well as the new Chatting with Children, and has been created especially for parents and practitioners supporting babies, toddlers and young children in learning to talk as the three packs contain activities for children aged 0-5.
Littlebit was immediately taken with the pictures on the cards so that engaged her straight away and I managed to keep her attention for longer than expected with them the first time we used them, and increasing amounts of time as we continued the sessions, I think our longest was an hour, which is pretty much unheard of in this house.
Littlebit’s favourite “game” of them all was actually one on the very first card we used “Big Ears The Elephant Listen For The Word”. We chose The Gruffalo, which is one of her favourites and everytime I said “good” i.e. “An owl saw the mouse, and the mouse looked good.” she had to rub her tummy and say “mmm mmm”. She thought this was hilarious!
Kate Freeman, I CAN Communication Advisor and experienced paediatric speech and language therapist says: “Given the right support, many children learn to talk without too much effort. There’s a golden age for learning to talk – this is before 5½ and so skills learnt at this age bring great benefits later on. Evidence has shown the early years to be a vital time for supporting all children’s communication, as well as a time to identify any difficulties and put support in place to improve a child’s overall life chances.
An adult engaging in conversation with children helps them to learn how to communicate. The “right support” for a child learning to talk is best with a close, trusted adult who responds to the child’s attempts to communicate and provides a stimulating learning environment for them. Young children need talking partners and that’s you!”
The absolute best bit about this tool is that all proceeds from the sales of them go towards iCAN’s work with the 1.2 million children in the UK who have long-term speech, language and communication difficulties. To purchase Chatting with Children or the Early Talkers Boxset comprising all three activity packs, visit www.ican.org.uk/bookshop.
I’d definitely recommend this product and it would be a bargain at twice the price! I’m looking forward to many more hours of fun with this.