Expert tips by Jan Jones (Early Childhood Educator)
Many children have trouble adjusting the volume of their voice to suit the situation they are in. From about the age of 3-4 years most children can change the loudness or softness of their voice when they choose. If your child is having difficulty doing this, you may like to print out a copy of the voice thermometer and use it to help the child practise when to use the appropriate voice level.
The voice thermometer was developed to teach children about different voice levels and when and where these are appropriate to be used. It is colour coded and numbered because all children differ in the way that they encode information.
In this particular thermometer the number:
- Green – represents the “whispering” voice
- Blue – represents the “talking” voice
- Orange – represents the “loud” voice
- Red – represents the “shouting” voice
When introducing this concept, ensure to model the different levels of voice to the child. Over-emphasis at the beginning is a good idea as the child will learn this concept receptively to begin with i.e. they will take in the information without necessarily being able to use it themselves. Also consider discussing with the child when each voice is appropriately used e.g. we use our loud voices when we are excited, we never use our loud voices inside, but it might be OK when at a football match. You may encourage learning by using the visual cue of the thermometer and by modelling the voice that the child should be using. As the child begins to understand the concept you may also move onto supporting more active learning by the child carrying out activities at different voice levels e.g. sing a song in their usual voice then sing it more loudly or quietly.
After the child has started to show some understanding of the voice thermometer, don’t be surprised if they start to tell you to use a “blue” voice if you have raised your voice to them. Make sure other adults and children who live in the house with the child have had the voice thermometer explained to them. Let other adults who are involved with the child (kindergarten teacher, grandparents, baby-sitters, etc.) see the voice thermometer and explain to them how you are using it so that they know what the child is talking about if they start to attach colours or numbers to a voice level.
The voice thermometer (click to download)
Information provided has been referenced from Biala Peninsula Early Intervention Centre, Mornington, Victoria, Australia