For children to discover a love of communicating, participating & engaging with the people in their lives.

Little Parrots is a friendly, personal and specialised speech pathology service providing speech, language and communication assessment and therapy for children aged approximately 0-9 years old.

Top 5 Christmas Ideas

Little Parrots Top 5 Favourite Christmas Ideas

As a travelling Speech Pathologist, it's in the job description to have exciting and motivating games for children to play with during our sessions. I often get asked, "Where did you get that game from?", particularly this time of year, when every parent is looking for Christmas present ideas.

Well, here are a few of my favourite and most popular ideas!

1. Pop up Pirate    You can buy Pop Up Pirate here. This game by Tomy, is a clear favourite with younger and older children (and parents!) alike. It's a great game for colour recognition, taking turns, language development, fine motor skills AND it's lots of fun!!!

2. Dotty Dinosaur You can buy Dotty Dinosaurs here.  Dotty Dinosaurs is a big hit with the 3-7 year olds! On one side of the dinosaurs is the the colour matching game and the other side is shape and colour matching. I use this game a lot for younger children, as it keeps their attention, but the game doesn't go for too long either.

3. Roll up play mats  Small Roll Up Car Mat   You can buy Roll Up Play mats here.  If you're on the road at lot during your week, driving the kids here and there, at therapy appointments or visiting friends or family, here is a fabulous Christmas idea. Play mats are a fantastic activity for encouraging language development, imaginative play and social skills.

4. Zingo!       You can buy Zingo! here
A great, new take on bingo, this game is great for the whole family! It's a simple and fun game for children from about 3-9 years and great for turn taking, language skills and social skills.

5. Sound Puzzles       You can buy this puzzle here.
This is more than just a puzzle! Each time you put a piece of puzzle in place, you will hear the sound of that vehicle. So motivating for children who are reluctant to do puzzles. This puzzle can be used to encourage receptive and expressive language skills, turn taking, fine motor skills and more.

What are your hot tips for Christmas this year? Do you know of any 'must have' products to share?

Happy Christmas shopping! 

5 Ways To Boost Communication in Kids

I know this seems a little bit too simple, but these strategies I've listed are, in my experience, tried and tested strategies to help to engage and get more communication happening for your kids!

So, here we go!

1.  Get down to their eye level


Crouch down, sit down on the floor, or pick them up. Being on the same eye level encourages eye contact and social communiation.

We've all been there. You're sitting at a table at a busy cafe, when someone you know comes up to say 'hello'. They're standing. You're sitting. It's kinda awkward. You don't usually have a long, flowing conversation with someone at different eye levels. As adults, when we walk into a room of people sitting down, we tend to naturally get ourselves on the same eye level as the people we're talking to. Particularly if we want to have a conversation. Same applies to kids. If we want to have a long 'conversation' or meaningful interaction with a child, get down to their eye level. They can't come up to your level, so it's up to you to get down to their's. Crouch down, sit on the floor or, if you can't do that, pick them up and bring them up to you! It seems so simple, but eye contact and facial expression are very important parts of communication. Being on the same eye level means that YOU can see your child's face, what they're looking at or interested in and how they are feeling. Also, YOUR CHILD can see your face, to make associations between facial expressions/ words/ feelings, practice using eye contact, they can see your mouth moves to make sounds and words.

2.  Talk in simple language


Use short sentences without all the 'fluff'. Provide a great example of clear, simple sentence that are achieveable for your child to say. 

Not rocket science here. Like all new skills, you can never do something perfectly first time. Doesn't happen. When you first learn to drive a car, it takes you 10 minutes to back out of the driveway because you have to make sure you have your seatbelt on, check the mirrors, turn the ignition on, put it into gear, put your foot on the brake, take handbrake off and put your foot on the accelerator. Ugh! How do people do this!!!! At first, you have to do all these things one at a time, step by step and consciously. Nearly 20 years later, I don't need to think about any of these things anymore. I just do them automatically. Same applies to learning language for children. At first, while they are learning, things don't just come automatically, they are conscious of what they are saying, how to say it, when to say it... It's complicated at first! If you provide children with too much information (for example, use sentences that are too long, using unnecessary words, etc) they will filter some of it out, and it could be the important bits! Use short, simple sentences to get your messages across.

3.  Ham it up!


Let your guard down and be a bit 'over the top' when playing with your child. Use exaggerated facial expressions, gasps and 'uh oh's. Your child will LOVE it!

This is definitely the most fun strategy to use! You've really got to let go with this one. Find your inner child, your goofy sense of humour and share it with your child. In fact, the goofier, the better!! I've been doing this for such a long time that I'm able to sing (I use the term 'sing' broadly!) in front of complete strangers, make silly noises and play toddler games with the enthusiasm of a toddler. It's taken some time to let go of inhibitions associated with being such a "goose" in front of people I don't know!! But the reason I do it, is that it helps me to connect quickly and communicate with children at their level and show them that I'm ready to play and communicate 'their way'. Making that connection through humour and expression is important to pave the way for better communication and a motivation to learn.

As with most things with kids, it's all in the presentation. Food, toys, learning... and communication!
So, when playing, use exaggerated facial expressions and hold them, so that your child can see your facial expression and has a couple of seconds to respond to it. They might copy it, laugh at it, or comment on it. Also, use very expressive 'noises' while you play, for example, 'uh oh', gasps, animal or vehicle noises, singing, humming - these are all very expressive ways of communicating that add to our messages. Don't underestimate the power of facial expressions.

4.  Read a Book



Don't just read a book with your child - interact with the book too! Put on a silly voice, sing the words, do some actions or noises or tap the rhyming beat!

Books are a FANTASTIC tool to encourage communication and language!!! My kids have always loved story time at the end of the day, before bed. We have to draw the line at the 5th story, otherwise we'd be there all night!

Try using 'character' voices when you're reading. Do a big, deep voice for a monster or bear character, use a teeny-tiny voice for 'little girl' characters. The more over the top your character voice is, the more your child will love it! I promise!

Use actions, 'sound effects' (boing, splash, whoooo, etc) or use the rhyme and rhythm of the story as a way of engaging your child. The classic story "Going on a Bear Hunt" is a terrific story for this. Tap your knees and say the story in the rhythm. Your child will be able to predict the next part of the story with ease and might help you tell the story and join in.


5.  Sing a Song


Your kids don't care if you can sing in tune - just sing! Make up your own songs, sing songs from your childhood or just sing any tune. Kids listen better to instructions that are sung. Try it!

There's a very good reason why we can still remember nursery rhymes from our childhoods, even though we haven't heard them for 20 or 30 years! We all have an innate connection with music and rhythm, so it makes sense to use this to help children listen to instructions and develop language skills.

Sing nursery rhymes for fun using lots of actions and facial expressions. You can even sing some nursery rhymes during your everyday routines, eg. "Put your shoes on Lucy" when getting your child's shoes on in the morning, "Take you driving in my car" or "The wheels on the bus [car] go round and round" when your driving to creche, kinder or school, "This is the way we [wash our bodies]" at bath time or "Twinkle, twinkle" just before bed time.

OR you can make up your own songs! Once you get started it really is quite easy! I tend to have 2 or 3 tunes that I use for all my 'made up' songs. Choose tunes that you know well. One of my 'go-to' tunes is "The Farmer in the Dell" and I use it for just about anything!

For example, (in the 'Farmer in the Dell' tune)... "Have your breakfast now, have your breakfast now. Munch and crunch and munch and crunch. Have your breakfast now....."!! I didn't say it would be a masterpiece, but it DOES get the kids to listen to me in the mornings, rather than me repeating myself 10 times! Try it! Your kids will be so surprised, and they'll prove that they DO actually hear you.

Christmas therapy ideas

Christmas is nearly here! Can you believe it?

I don't know about you, but I find this time of year hectic, tiring and overwhelming, but I also think it's such a magical time of year for children and adults alike! Despite all my groaning, I really DO love it!


Christmas can also bring the added bonus (for parents) of a little extra motivation for kids... I find myself often saying, "Santa's watching..." to my kids, as they get up to mischief at home!

I also tend to use Christmas themed activities and games during the Christmas season, as most kids ARE a little extra motivated by all things Christmas, and it only happens once a year! That extra motivation can extend to getting some speech pathology practice in over the holiday season. 

Speaking of speech, has a wonderful list of Christmas themed games, activities, cards for you to print off and use at home! Take a look at their resources here.  

Kids Activities Blog also has some very cute 'paper baking' sets for kids to decorate.

Also, if you'd like to do some other activities over the Christmas and New Year period, pop over to our Pinterest page for some fun ideas, information and inspiration to keep working on your child's therapy goals, without them even knowing!!! 

Have fun with these and I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year!


What IS speech pathology?

Speech pathology, speech therapy, speech and language pathology, SLP, speech and language therapy, speech-language pathology.... Which is it? Are they the same thing or not?

This is something that we often get asked. The short answer is, yes. They are the same things, and the professionals have the same qualifications and expertise. It depends a bit on which country the "Speechie" trained in and received their qualification. In Australia, we are generally called Speech Pathologists - that's our official title, but people tend to understand what we do a bit better if we say we are Speech Therapists. In the UK, we are called 'Speech and Language Therapists', in America and Canada, 'Speech-Language Pathologists' and in New Zealand, 'Speech-Language Therapists'. Same thing. We all do the same job.

Soooo, what IS that job again? What EXACTLY does a Speech Pathologist do?
Speech Pathologists basically work with people of any age and any ability, who are having difficulties with their communication, feeding or swallowing. You can find out more detail about speech pathology by visiting the Speech Pathology Australia website here.

'Speechies' work in a variety of settings including in schools, community health services, early childhood intervention programs, private practice, hospitals, aged care services, disability services and many more.  

If you or your child need to see a Speech Pathologist, here are some terms you might hear thrown around at times:
  • Speech - the WAY in which people say words, how they articulate or pronunciate words.
  • Language - this refers to WHAT is said, the actual use and understanding of words and sentences.
  • Voice - how a person's voice sounds, eg. high or low pitched, croaky, strained.
  • Dysfluency - stuttering or stammering. Dysfluencies can be repeating sounds, words or phrases, getting stuck on a sound, having 'blocks' (when the words just won't come out).
  • Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) - using an alternative means of communication when verbal communication is difficult. eg. Electronic devices, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Signing or using gestures. 
  • You can access a more comprehensive glossary of terms from our website shop.
If you think you may need the help of a Speech Pathologist, you can get in touch with one by getting onto the Speech Pathologist directory at Speech Pathology Australia here. If you're in Melbourne, you can give Little Parrots a call to see if we come to your area. If not, we'll point you in the right direction.

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