3 Quick And Easy Ways To Help Your Child’s Communication Skills This Holiday Season
The holiday season is a busy time of year for parents and caregivers. In this post, we’ll share some tips to help you develop your child’s listening and speaking over the holiday break, without adding to your overflowing to-do list.
1. Combine Your To-Do List With Teaching New Vocabulary
Have your child join in and help you with your errands wherever they can. The holiday season offers many opportunities to teach new vocabulary and concepts as you go about seasonal tasks.
As you decorate the tree, write cards or wrap presents, use and teach your child new naming words (e.g., star, reindeer, candle), location words (e.g., top, under, behind, back, front), action words (e.g., wrap, decorate, hang) and mental state terms (e.g., hope, like, know, wish, think). Acoustically highlight new words, concepts and sentence structures, and use them repetitively throughout your conversation.
2. Talk While You Wait
Make the most of things like driving to the store, traveling on the bus or waiting in line to practice speaking and listening skills with your child, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Take the opportunity to:
- Talk with your child about your day. For younger children, focus on time concepts like now, next and then. Teach your child these concepts by acoustically highlighting them in your speech and using them in context: e.g., Now, we have to wait in line for our turn, then we can put our shopping on the counter.
- For older children, highlight sequencing concepts such as first, then, before and after in your conversation: e.g., Today we need to go to the grocery store, then we need to return the library books because they are due back. Although before we do any of that, we have to visit the post office as it will close soon. So, let’s drive to the post office first.
- Add reasoning to increase the complexity of your conversation. Do this by using phrases with because, and so.
- Look at a storybook. Carry a storybook with you to look at and talk about it while you wait. Rather than reading the whole story, look at and make comments about what is happening in the pictures. Follow your child’s lead and talk more about what your child is interested in or looking at on the pages. Make up alternative endings to the story, link objects or events to your child’s experiences or discuss what the characters might be thinking or feeling. Use ‘expansion and extension’ to develop your child’s spoken phrases and sentences. You may choose holiday-themed stories to help to reinforce new holiday vocabulary.
- Play “I spy”. This is a great game to play while out and about as you don’t need any objects or toys. This game helps your child to listen to and remember descriptions, formulate descriptions for others, take turns, and formulate questions such as ‘Is it a snowflake?’. For older children, you can also add sound cues to develop pre-literacy skills (e.g., ‘I spy something that begins with the p sound’).
3. Ask For Help
Share your child’s progress and current speech and language therapy goals with your child’s grandparents, extended family and close friends. Ask for their help in supporting your child’s speech, language and listening skill development while spending time together this holiday season.
Share some tips that help your child, like:
- How to create a better listening environment by reducing background noise and moving closer to your child when speaking to them.
- Explaining how to use a strategy that helps your child understand and learn language, such as using meaningful repetition, or ‘listening first’.
- Teaching your extended family how best to communicate with your child to help them get the most out of the time spent with family over the holiday break.
We wish your family a relaxing holiday break and a happy new year!
Looking for more rehab activities you can do during the holiday season? Our Rehab At Home Series shows fun activities you can do at home, such as board games or craft activities.
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