El Hogar del Nino
A 2011 grant from Nuestro Futuro helps to fund a bilingual speech and language therapist to better serve students and families.
Teachers in El Hogar del Nino's "Toddlers & Twos" classroom wondered if Juliana's quiet manner might reflect a struggle to develop language skills. When talking, she merely repeated back what had just been said, or formed sounds rather than recognizable words. A confused look on her face suggested that instructions often left her behind.
Juliana's mother was eager to provide consistent practice at home—but didn't know how to help. Her first step was a meeting with the school’s speech-language pathologist. This specialist works one-on-one with children and also provides interactive trainings for parents on home activities that promote language development. After observing Juliana in her classroom, the specialist found that delayed language skills were keeping her from learning at the same pace as other children.
The speech-language pathologist began to work with Juliana in her classroom once a week, encouraging her to practice single words and short phrases for the people, activities, and objects in her environment. In addition, the pathologist gave Juliana's mother specific home exercises, ranging from how to read picture books together to how to help Juliana pay attention. Finally, she provided suggestions to Juliana's teachers about giving clear instructions and modeling new vocabulary.
"She's really talking now!" Juliana's mother reports. "We know what she's saying and what she wants. And I think she knows so many words, I get surprised sometimes! She's saying real sentences." The whole family works together to encourage Juliana to practice and strengthen her skills.
Although Juliana continues to show delays, she now follows routines and has begun to engage her classmates in play. She livens up the classroom by transforming blocks into a "choo-choo" or into party hats, and enjoys celebrating birthdays by singing, blowing out pretend candles and eating pretend cake. When a classmate lay on his back and put his "birthday cake" on his stomach to eat it, Juliana pointed at him, smiled and said, "Mira, panza!" ("Look, (a) tummy!").
Learn more about Nuestro Futuro, the Trust's affiliate that supports programs improving the quality of life of Latinos in metropolitan Chicago.