I've got a confession to make! Sometimes my mind is so full of things to do, that I get my words mixed up. I know I do it, but I didn't realise how much I do it until I watch my videos back! Now, I could go back and completely re-record the video, or I could just 'fess up and say, I know - I TOTALLY ruined the punchline of my joke. Which is why I'm not a stand-up comic. However, muddling my words up is not the best difficulty to have when you're a speech and language therapist either! Ho hum! Most of the time, my family find it funny which brings me on to the subject of this weeks blog: Using laughter to encourage language development.
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I didn't know that the first Sunday in May every year is World Laugher Day, but when I heard, I thought that this week's blog should celebrate that fact! In fact, the last of ICAN's (The Communication Charity) top ten tips is "Have fun" Here's their video - I bet they didn't get their words muddled up!
We know the benefits of laughter for adults; it lowers stress and increases the endorphins in your body.  So obviously, there are going to be benefits for children as well. In fact, as far as language development is concerned, there are four main benefits of being silly and having fun with children.
  • It takes the pressure off children.

When you're silly and you make children laugh then they're not going to be worried that you're going to be asking them testing-type questions because you're just laughing at yourself. Then, they are much more likely to want to join in with your activities and conversations because you're being silly.

  • It encourages social interaction

Children generally laugh when they're looking at other children. In fact, you might sometimes see that children with poor language skills imitate laughing without realising what's funny. They just enjoy laughing and looking at the other children for their responses. So those really positive social interactions occur when children are laughing with one another.

  •  It draws a child's attention to you.

When you start to be silly, for example, singing a song but getting the words wrong,  not only do the children love it that you get the words wrong but also they will really paying much more attention so that they could correct you! If you start to say things like "I'm sitting on the blue chair" (but it's a red chair) then they'll start to pay much more attention when you're being silly just so that they can start to correct you. 

  •  It encourages children to experiment with language.

When you play with words, rhyming, alliteration etc, e.g. "Charlie Farley Lemon Barley" then they'll start to experiment with rhyming themselves and it gives them that early phonological awareness that children need in order to develop literacy skills. They also love it when you're silly by making up non-words.

My husband would call me the FPO - the fun prevention officer - when I'm being a little bit serious and do you know what? There are a number of early years settings that I've been to where there's always one F.P.O. The kids are having a great time, they're laughing, they're interacting with each other and playing around with words and then one of the members of staff will say "that's too much noise over there, boys; keep the noise down."  And if you can't work out who the fun prevention officer is in your setting, maybe you should consider if it's you?