Being in the car is a part of a daily routine for many of us, from driving to school, to social activities, to heading out to the grocery store. If you and your child often spend time in a car, use this as an opportunity to enhance your child’s communication skills. Here are some simple activities you can do with your child in the car.
1. Talk about what you are doing in the car. You can say for example, “I have fastened my seat belt, have you fastened yours?” Wait for your child to respond, if they do not respond after a while, you can say it for them: “Oh yes I have fastened my seat belt too, Mommy.”
2. Explain to your child where you are going to. This auditory input strategy means that your child will hear and try to interpret the words before seeing the place. You can also talk about what you and your child are going to do there. This strategy also gives your child a sense of control of their surroundings, as they know what is going to happen next.
3. Describe the sights you both see along the way. Talk about what you both see together as you drive along. “Hey look, that’s the train station on your left. Its walls are made from orange bricks.
They seem very ‘sturdy’, don’t you think? ‘Sturdy’ is the same word as ‘strong’.” Use a loud confident voice, when you say the words “sturdy” and “strong”, to help your child better understand what you are explaining and keep their interest. This is called “acoustic highlighting”.
4. Comment on the weather. Talk about the weather with your child and use the sabotage strategy to check your child is actively listening. Do this by giving false explanations of the weather to see if your child recognizes the error. When it is raining and cold, say “I like the weather today, it is very hot and sunny.” Look for signs from your child that they identify your mistake—they may say something or give you a questioning look.
5. Teach your child simple traffic rules. “The green traffic light is on, it means we can carry on driving. But if the red light is on, it means we need to. . .?” Let your child fill in the missing word. Appreciate any attempts or participation that your child shows, even if they are incorrect at first.
If you consistently use everyday activities, like riding in the car, as learning time, imagine how much your child’s communication skills will develop!
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