Friday, July 6, 2007

Digital audio to the rescue: Please let me practice some more!!

My son, Danny (5), has had bouts with temporary hearing loss since he was 3 years old. Unfortunately, that translates into weekly speech therapy sessions. He’s been taking speech for almost a year and we’re in the home stretch. If he can just master his “L” sounds he’ll be done and ready to start Kindergarten in August. However, it is getting harder and harder to convince him to practice his speech lessons. Today I decided to see what would happen if I gave him a microphone and let him record his voice on the computer.

At first he was tentative and worked very hard to pronounce his sounds correctly as you can hear in these sentences about sailboats and balloons. Then, he became 5-year old silly and started making up stories like this one about the yellow crayon that goes to Africa, China, Florida and Georgia (??). While his pronunciations didn’t show any remarkable improvement the fact that he wants to practice speech tomorrow is a HUGE step forward for us. If I can get him to practice his articulation will improve.

As I was working with Danny today I thought about other ways Moms could use simple audio technologies to support their kids. If your child is shy, have him talk into a microphone to practice a strong, confident voice. If your child struggles with writing have him tell a story instead of writing it. If he likes the story enough he’ll want to put it in written form eventually. If your child has a class presentation, let him record and critique himself. If your child is a comedian, allow him to record jokes to share with distant relatives. If your child struggles with reading fluency allow him to read into the microphone. I am sure you can think of more ideas.

Moms can also use digital audio in powerful ways. If you are going away on a business trip record a couple favorite bedtime stories. Record those adorable little voices before they grow up. My kids are young and I already long for that cute baby talk at times. Plus, what a great way to bring the family together for a few laughs in later years. Record memories for your kids; I lost my mother in my pre-teen years and would love to be able to hear her voice. What advice would she have had for me? What did she always want me to know but never had a chance to say? What did she really sound like? Twenty years can dull even the fondest of memories. If we take time to record our voice now our kids will be so appreciative later.

The best part about the technology used for this activity is that it is totally free. I used a digital audio program called Audacity and saved the files in MP3 format. I uploaded them to a free media storage site called OurMedia and linked them in my blog. The entire process took about 10 minutes. If you are not comfortable uploading files to the Internet, you can always use Audacity to create files that reside on your computer. Once your child has created something too great to keep to yourself (which won’t be long) you can begin the process of sharing the work over the Internet.

Children relish in the opportunity to create and share; digital audio gives us 21st century Moms another tool to support them in such endeavors.

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