What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like

With most of our services being home-based, Root for Kids had to quickly adapt to a new reality when the social-distancing and quarantine guidelines hit mid-March. Since then we have moved our home visits online to ensure our staff and clients stay safe and healthy. But how does that work? Emily Sonzogni, M.S., CCC-SLP, shared a few insights of what a virtual speech therapy session looks like.

Pretend Birthday Party

Elmo has had lots of birthday parties the last few months! We get to build a cake for him, sing to him, blow out his candles, blow up balloons for him, wear party hats, and open presents to practice naming objects. I just had a family today say, “Ever since Elmo’s birthday party, he’s been talking about Elmo all the time!” Memorable activity that allows the family to carryover celebrating Elmo’s birthday all day!

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

Building Tower

A child will help me build a tower by saying “up… up… up!” and then when they say “wham!” I knock it over. They love hearing a big crash! It’s great to use simple toys to show families ways to practice language with toys they have at home.

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

Know Your Animals

We have been practicing lots of animal names and sounds the last few months. Kids will tell me to “open” this clear container, tell me which animal to get out, give me directions to put the animals “in” or “on” or “under” the container, and sing “Old McDonald had a Farm.”

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

BOOKS! 

I can’t get enough of reading books to young children! I love reading books to children virtually to model some simple reading strategies and give parents tips on how to engage their children in book reading more often. Teaching families about the value of reading to their children and problem solving ways to increase their child’s attention span is probably one of my biggest passions as a speech-language pathologist.

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

Learning Routine

Today I used my daughter’s dollhouse for a session for the first time. The child got to tell me which figures he wanted to play with, open and close the garage doors, help me feed the family, tell them to walk “up” and “down” stairs, take a bath, and go “night night.” Great way to model simple language strategies for families, and fun interactive way to engage with the child.

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

We are grateful for Emily and all of our wonderful staff for rising up to the challenge during these uncertain times. To support the work that we are doing, join us on September 12 for The Secret Garden Gala – Home Edition!

Root for Kids serves pregnant women and children from birth to age five in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, fill out our referral form.

 


Tapping the Power of Creativity in Children

by Craig Roberts,  Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Why Creativity?

Have you heard the saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words?” For children, whose language skills are still developing, the idea is even more potent. Children can often express themselves better through creative means than they can through words. This helps them in the following ways:

1. When feelings are stuffed (unexpressed), they fester, build up pressure and find expression through misbehavior. Allowing safe expression reduces problems.

2. It brings understanding and insight to the child and to you. For example, it may be sobering to see yourself drawn dead in a grave, but suddenly you understand that losing you is your child’s biggest fear, and that’s why he’s so afraid to go to school.

3. It gives your child a chance to find emotional healing. The next picture your child draws may be of him with a magic wand, calling you back to life. Although not technically true, a little part of your child’s brain will say, “I don’t have to worry about mom dying, because I’ll just bring her back to life. So I can go to school.” He has overcome his fear through fantasy.

What are some options for creativity? Anything. Art, dance, movement, pretend storytelling, writing, sculpting with play-doh or pipe cleaners, playing with action figures or dolls, music, sound effects, and many more things can be used. Go where your child is comfortable and give lots of options. Your child will find her way.

Tapping the Power of Creativity in Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova

How can I help my child express feelings creatively? 

1. Appreciate, don’t criticize. Because your child needs to express dark feelings, he might just scribble in red on the paper. It’s not an art contest; it self-expression. So you warmly say, “Wow. This is a red scribbly paper. Lots and lots of red scribbles.” Don’t be concerned to see themes that are gory, violent, depressed, etc. Be grateful that your child will share with you.

2. Only comment on what is obvious. Don’t interpret. Saying that there are lots of red scribbles avoids you making the wrong guess by saying something like, “Does this remind you of all the blood at the accident?” Your child may not be ready to discuss that verbally, even if you had guessed right.

3. Invite the child to comment if s/he wishes. “I’m very interested in this picture, if you want to tell me about it.”

4. If the child makes a commentary, repeat it back to make sure that you heard right, and invite more commentary. “So let me see if I got this right. The red is about how mad you feel about moving. Anything else about it?”

5. If invited to join, remember that it’s your child’s creation. For instance, if your child hands you a Joker action figure, and his Batman figure hits it, you don’t know if Joker is supposed to fight back, cry, die, laugh, or whatever. To keep the story coming from your child’s imagination, you ask, “What does Joker do now that Batman hit him?” Then follow your child’s instructions.

Tapping the Power of Creativity in Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Gustavo Fring

Root for Kids serves pregnant women and children from birth to age five in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, fill out our referral form.


How Root for Kids is supporting children and families during COVID-19

Our priority is keeping staff and clients safe and following State and CDC recommendations. Since March 15, we have been practicing social distancing by transitioning to virtual home visits and limiting the number of staff working in our buildings. See how Root for Kids is supporting families and children during COVID-19.

Virtual Home Visits

Our wonderful home visitors transitioned to virtual home visits back in March and we keep practicing social distancing to help protect the children and the families we serve. We are also hosting virtual playgroups and other helpful activities to support parents during these challenging times.

Families can still enroll in all of our programs! Parents and medical providers can fill out a referral form online.

Virtual Home Visits | Root for Kids

Online Collaboration

On top of virtual home visits with the families we serve, we are still meeting with our community partners online. These collaborations help us stay connected and informed while strengthening  relationships with the community.

Food Pantry Drive-Thru

Every month we host a food pantry event in partnership with the Utah Food Bank for enrolled families. Our staff had to get creative to be able to provide this important service while practicing social distancing. Special thanks to our hard-working staff for putting together food boxes ahead of time for 136 families last month! This allowed families to stay in the car while our staff loaded the boxes for them.

Food Pantry | Root for Kids

Diaper Delivery

Many young families are forced to choose between keeping their babies in dry diapers or putting food on the table, especially during the pandemic. Root for Kids brings diapers to their home visits to help families who may be struggling financially.

One Utah Child Care for First Responders

The Caterpillar Clubhouse was the only child care center outside the Wasatch Front partnering with the One Utah Child Care program, providing free childcare for first responders families April through June. The new classroom had capacity for 16 children.

Volunteers

We continue to have the support of many volunteers that are serving Root for Kids in different capacities. We have also provided face masks, hand sanitizer and wipes to our office volunteers who at the moment are helping us with scanning, digital filing, organizing. Our remote home volunteers are coloring, cutting, organizing pictures, making sensory books for the children we serve.

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We currently have some student volunteers  from DSU who are working alongside the home visitors with some of our programs, depending on what their skill level and academic goals are. They are volunteering within the boundaries that are available at this time. We are grateful for their commitment to make a difference in the lives of the children and families!

How You Can Help

  • Attend The Secret Garden Gala – Home Edition
  • Help us continue to provide important programs and items such as diapers, wipes and formula to families by making a donation online or via Venmo (@rootforkids / verification code: 9494)
  • Donate an auction item or double your impact: support a local business by purchasing a gift card and then support a local nonprofit (us!) by donating it to our Secret Garden Gala – Home Edition coming up this September! You will receive a tax deduction for the gift card amount as well as the satisfaction of knowing that you helped TWO local businesses through this difficult time. We are happy to arrange a “socially distant, porch-friendly” pickup of your gift card anytime or gift cards can be mailed or delivered to:

ATTN: Monica Jones

Root for Kids

2044 S. Mesa Palms Drive

St. George, UT, 84770

Thank you for supporting Root for Kids and the children we serve! Stay up to date on all things happening around here through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Create a Positive Relationship with Your Child

by Craig Roberts,  Licensed Clinical Social Worker

What is your parent/child relationship made out of? Some are made out of power struggles. Others are made out of indifference and distance. The kind that you want is made out of happy connections. For that to happen, you must create happy connecting experiences with your child! You, the parent, choose this and cause it to happen. Here’s how to create a positive relationship with your child.

Choose to interact

Put a priority on interacting with your child. Put aside the electronic screens, housework, and other distractions, and dedicate time to your child.

Creating Positive Relationship with Your Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Lina Kivaka

Bring positive energy

It doesn’t matter if you are playing a game, pulling weeds, doing homework, baking cookies, driving in the car, shopping, doing dishes, or anything. Whatever you are doing, be positive. Talk about how you love your child and like doing things with him/her. Notice his/her good qualities. Make everything into a game. Make it so that it feels happy just being together. When you are smiling together, you know you’re getting things right.

Your attention is the best gift

People give attention to things that are important to them. Children get good self-esteem from seeing that they are important enough to be noticed and appreciated. When you look at your child, s/he knows s/he is important. When you smile at him/her, s/he knows s/he is a good person. When you give loving touch, s/he feels love even more deeply. When you play and laugh together, suddenly the whole world is wonderful.

Creating Positive Relationship with Your Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova

Join your child’s experience

When something is important to your child, it is important to you! Focus on what they focus on. If they are interested in a bug, get interested, too. If they are learning to cut with scissors, enjoy cutting together. If they are playing cars in the dirt, get in the dirt and join in. If they just split up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, and want to watch mindless TV for a while, join the moment. If they’re stuck in cyber world, text them. You want to show your child how important s/he is to you, and the way to do it is to put importance on what is important to him/her.

For more on tips from Craig, check out Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children



Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children

Being at home all the time with the kids can be challenging. Especially trying to establish routines with children. We asked Craig Roberts, our amazing Licensed Clinical Social Worker, to share a few ideas on creating structure with young children. 

Start with the attitude that “We do things together.” 

We play together, we work together, etc.  This way, you get more interaction and more chances to have joy together.

Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children | Root for Kids
source: Shutterstock

Show respect in getting your child away from their previous activity

Give them a heads up if possible.  If they’re watching TV, give them until the end of the show, or until the next commercial.  If they’re playing a video game, give them a 5-minute warning, or until they finish the next puzzle, etc.  Kindly stick to your guns and end the activity when the time comes.  If your child is sad/mad about leaving an activity, warmly accept his/her feelings.

Put activities in a timeline that makes sense

Get the work done before the fun.  Some examples are: “We’re going to eat soon, but before we can do that, we need to cook the food and set the table.”  “In a while, it will be time to go to the park, but before that, we need to get the house cleaned so that when we get back, we won’t have to do all that work when we’re tired.”

Transform the work into fun 

For instance, if you have a race to see whether you can cook the food first or your child can set the table first, your child will probably have fun beating you in the race.  If you drive the laundry basket around the house saying, “No, don’t put any dirty laundry in me,” your child will probably laughingly stuff all the dirty laundry in.  Something is fun if you, the parent, make it fun.  It’s a drudge if you, the parent, make it a drudge.  Figure out how to make it fun.

Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children | Root for Kids
source: Shutterstock

Talk about your feelings and values regarding the task at hand, while keeping positive 

Do the “before” and “after” picture with your words.  For instance, “We’re going to go on a walk tonight, but first we need to get the dishes done.  Oh, look at these dishes all messy and cluttery.  Are we going to let them clutter up our sink?  No, we are not! You dishes are going to get clean.  Johnny and I will see to that!”  Have fun as you wash the dishes with Johnny.  When you’re done, appreciate your work.  “Wow.  Our kitchen feels great now.  We’re a great dishwashing team. Now it’s time to go on our walk!” 

Be appreciative of whatever positive thing your child does

If you’re cleaning Suzie’s bedroom and she makes the bed and it’s all lumpy, say “Wow.  You got your bed made. You got the pillow in the right place, and got the blanket pulled up over the top of it.  Very nice work!”  Find the good in what she did, and she will feel proud to help and encouraged to help the next time.  Ignore the lumps, and over the years they will get smoothed out.

Give your child many appropriate moments of power and choice

You might say, “OK.  Now we’re cleaning your room.  You’re in charge in here.  Do you think we should start with the toys first or the dirty clothes first?”  Giving power to your child helps him/her feel like the owner of the chore and starts building his/her ability one day to do chores independently from you.  But don’t rush that.  Wait until your relationship is feeling very strong and happy. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities to happily work together.

Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children | Root for Kids
source: Shutterstock

Root for Kids serves children from birth to age five in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. We are still enrolling for all of our programs! Fill out our referral form today.