Deaf children can learn new words and language visually, so pictures or simple drawings are key to developing their ability to link words and meaning before they actually read.
Informal diaries with stick figures, line drawings and specific pictures can help reinforce this link by recording what’s been learned in daily activities.
This way, both you and your child have a physical reference and revision point for new words and language concepts.
Some basic reading ability helps before using diaries to develop your child’s language, and an update twice to three times per week is just fine.
Visiting Family Members
As an initial example, if you visit grandparents and record the detail in your diary, it’s there, ready to prompt a discussion before your next visit.
The diary entry could read, “We saw Granny and Grandad today. They have a cat called Kitty”, with a photo or simple drawing (including the cat).
Subjects to discuss: Granny, Grandad, Kitty, today, new word/s from then, and for older children, the past tense (“we saw”) and language structures.
Experiences As Language Opportunities
While emphasising new words and/or concepts learned during a specific occasion or outing, this simplicity can be translated for most “experiences”.
For example: “We went to the beach this afternoon. We made a sandcastle”, or “[Child’s name] played with [child] today. They saw a rainbow” (with relevant drawings and/or photos).
Learning About The Passing Of Time
Diaries also enable your child to understand the passing of time, as in ‘today’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘next week’, ‘next month’ and so forth.
If your child understands how (pictorial) calendars work, these can be used together with the diary to describe and prepare for upcoming events.
To use the grandparents example, you could say, “we’ll see Granny and Grandad next ___” and mark it on a calendar to complement your diary.
This way, your child learns the key skill of separating time into blocks, as in past, present and future, and the relevant language structures.
Document Your Life!
All children love to draw or create pictures with adults, so “experience books” like this are a great way to chat about new things they’ve learned.
Best of all, the “experience book” can be compiled by parents, childminders, extended family or friends – as it’s such a natural way to learn language.
(This article can be used in conjunction with the previous piece,
“Digital Photos For New Words And Concepts“)