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Review. I Can – Chatting with Children.

Sometimes my imagination fails me. I’m at a loss with new ideas for games to play with my little girl. I love playing with her, they are precious moments in which we connect, talk and listen in turns, and share our words.

So I was very pleased when I was sent Chatting with Children by I CAN, The Children’s Communication Charity. Chatting with Children is a set of 30 interactive activity and game cards to help build preschoolers’ confidence in their language development and communication skills. Chatting with Children is aimed at children aged three to five.

The activity and game cards are presented in a sturdy box, which is always useful for storage. The cards are divided into four essential areas of communication and really nicely illustrated. There’s Big Ears The Elephant for listening and attention games, Brave The Bear for understanding what is said, Brilliant The Butterfly for learning and using new words, Chatterbox The Canary for speaking in sentences, and my little one’s favourite, Mischievous The Monkey for talking socially activities. The instructions for each activity are presented very clearly, they detail the learning opportunities, and suggest ways of making the activity easier, or more challenging, depending upon the skill set of your child.

The cards are a nice large size, and when we first opened the box, my two and a half year old whiled away the time by taking all the cards out and placing them back in the box again and again, and again. Luckily, my little one was a very early talker and I consider her language skills to be quite advanced for her age, so although the activities are pitched from three and upwards, I found she got on really well with quite a few of them. I think as long as your toddler is talking and understanding quite well, there are enough games she or he will be able to play. Some of the games my little one wasn’t ready for, being more advanced for older children, but this is no bad thing, as she’ll get plenty of fun and learning from these activities over the coming years.

At the moment there are four activities/games my little one particularly enjoys…

1. Stop And Go. The game where she runs around and around in circles banging loudly on her tambourine (or on any other object) until I say Stop, whereby she stops, and when I say Go, she continues the din once more! To make the game a little more challenging I whisper Stop and Go to encourage her to pay attention, and listen carefully for my commands.

2. Listen For The Word. We had a lot of fun with this. The aim is to listen for and respond to key words, mixed up with other words in the sentences of a story. So we chose ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’, and every time my little one heard the word bear, she was to give her very best growl. Needless to say, we smiled and laughed grrrrrrrring and rooooaring.

3. Copy Cats. This games encourages turn taking skills, and to look at and pay attention to another person. I put my right leg forward. Little one does the same. I stick my tongue out. Little one does the same. We swap. Little one wiggles and waggles her bottom. I do the same. Little one shoves her finger up her nose. Er, I do the same. I can’t stop laughing at my toddler’s inventiveness.

4. Mummy Says. Another version of the favourite Simon Says. Little one really enjoys my instructions of touch your nose, touch your toes, wiggle your bottom, smile like a cheshire cat. Then I up the ante by joining instructions together, which she cleverly follows without a hitch!

The great thing about these activity cards is that you can pull them out for a quick five minute game, and they provide plenty of ideas for indoor things to do now the days are getting wetter and shorter. And of course, they are a great tool for improving your child’s language and social skills in preparation for school.

Chatting with Children is available in paper back for £7.99 plus p&p or hardback for £12.00 plus p&p, and you can purchase it from the I Can bookshop.

The complete Early Talkers Boxset (Babbling Babies, Toddler Talk and Chatting with Children) is also available in paperback for £19.99 plus p&p from the I Can bookshop.

All proceeds go towards I CAN’s work with the 1.2 million children in the UK who have long-term speech, language and communication difficulties.

Ellen Lavin – The Essential Over 35 Pregnancy Guide

Older Mum rates this …..

At about 35 I started noticing pregnant tummies and cutsie cutsie newborns EVERYWHERE. This was a strange new experience for me – the fertility clock was ticking loudly. I still wasn’t sure I wanted a baby but at the same time I felt the pressure of my advancing years. Most articles I read in the papers about AMA (advanced maternal age) were all doom fertility this and gloom fertility that. I wanted to read something reassuring and that’s how I came across this book.

Ellen Lavin has a Ph. D in psychology and is a marriage, family and child counselor specialising in pregnancy issues. She didn’t have her first child until she was forty.  Like myself she didn’t meet her husband until she was 33 and eventually married at 38. At 39 Ellen started trying and became pregnant straight away but went on to suffer two miscarriages before finally falling pregnant successfully. She gave birth to a healthy boy at thirty eight weeks. Even though there is a greater risk of miscarriage later in life, Ellen says that age is not a reliable yardstick for measuring who will have a successful pregnancy. After all women in the prime of their childbearing years can still suffer miscarriage.

The Essential Over 35 Pregnancy Guide has a positive message about later life pregnancy, is easy to understand and down to earth in style.  It covers everything you would want to know; the fertility issue, preconception care and explores the myths and realities of pregnancy at midlife. Her views on conception and stress are refreshing. She points out that stress can only affect your ability to conceive if your tension is so high that it stops you from menstruating or ovulating.

The book goes on to cover screening tests, fertility treatment and pregnancy.  There is an excellent chapter ‘Embracing Pregnancy Again’ which explores the emotional repercussions of becoming pregnant after miscarriage.  She is very reassuring if you have miscarried and now blame yourself for not having a baby sooner.

As the book is written for an American audience it refers to their health care system but don’t let that put you off as all the information is still relevant. The only thing missing is pictures of older pregnant mums and that’s why I’ve only given it four stars.

Be supported and reassured …..