Build Listening and Language Skills in Spring
Whether you’re enjoying the spring showers and sun in the Northern Hemisphere or watching the leaves turn during autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, changing seasons are great times to practice listening and extend your child’s listening skills. Go outside with your child, enjoy the changing of the season and use these activities to help build their listening and language skills.
We’ve split this information into two blog posts: this one is filled with activities for spring, and next week we’ll have one with activities for autumn.
Take a Walk Outside
With the new season comes many changes in the environment around us: lots of new flowers blooming, birds chirping, people to see, and places to go.
- Before you go out, talk with your child about what you’ll need to wear to match the weather.
- Let your child know why you’re wearing different clothes, instead of just taking the changes for granted: “We can wear sandals now, because it’s warm. Your feet won’t get so cold when it’s warm outside, so we won’t need to put socks on today.” This will help your child to build their reasoning skills and the relationship between reasoning and our actions or solutions.
- You can turn this into a listening activity by asking your child to get the different clothes that you need.
- For example, you could say “We need to get you some shorts to wear. Could you go and get your white shorts with the red stripe from your drawers?”
- Then see if they are able to find those shorts. If they have some difficulty, you can help them by breaking down the instructions into shorter bits: “Let’s go to your room and open your drawers,” and “Can you find the white shorts with the red stripe?” Each time, wait for your child to listen to you and follow your instructions through listening alone. If they keep having difficulties understanding what you are saying, turn this into a teaching moment. Show them where their drawers are, and repeat your instructions over to reinforce what you’re saying: “Here are your drawers. We keep all of your clothes inside your bedroom drawers. Let’s open the bottom drawer and find your shorts. Here are all your shorts. Where are your white shorts with the red strip? Here they are. These are your white shorts, and look, here’s the red stripe on them.”
- Be careful to not point or gesture too much. Although these can help your child understand your message, they can also start relying on visuals at the expense of building their listening skills. To help them building their listening skills, it’s important to remember to focus on listening to the words and trying to understand these—before using pointing, gestures or other visual cues.
- When you go outside, talk about all the different changes that are happening around you. The more you say, the more you’re exposing your child to new language, concepts, and knowledge of what’s going on around them.
- As it’s springtime, you might reflect on how the air is getting warmer, the trees are growing leaves, and the flowers are blooming. Talk about the different aspects of the trees and flowers that you see with lots of different descriptive words: “See the bright yellow daffodils, they have long green stems, and have dark yellow petals on the inside,” or “Look at all the red tulips! They are bright red!”
- Listen to the wind as it blows through the air, or the chirp of birds in the trees. Point out specific sounds to your child and encourage them to pay attention to these, like “Listen to the birds. The birds chirp when it is spring!”
Make Some Crafts
As you’re walking about, gather up some of the nice flowers that you see. When you’re back at home, you can use these in a craft-making activity to reinforce the skills that you helped teach them while out on your walk—and to further extend their listening and language skills.
- Gather up a variety of flowers, with different colors and shapes.
- Talk with your child about the differences in the flowers that you’ve collected: not just colors, but also the shapes, sizes, smells, textures, and so on.
- Talk with your child also about the similarities: point out that “these flowers are both yellow” or “this red flower is bigger than that yellow flower.”
- Talk about where you found each flower, and what activities you did earlier in the day. You can also talk about these experiences in an order as they happened, to help build your child’s sequencing skills: “First we went to the park and collected some yellow daffodils. After that, we walked to the pond and found some red tulips. At the end of our walk, we carried the flowers home.”
- Once you’ve talked about the flowers, you can bring them all together to make some arts and crafts:
- Ask your child to gather some crafts materials again through listening, like “Can you find the scissors in the cupboard?” or “Can you get the glue stick from the drawer?”
- As you’re pressing the flowers or picking off some of the petals, talk with your child about different concepts. For example, you could say to them how “the glue is sticky,” “these petals are soft,” or “the scissors are sharp, so be careful.”
- Have your child gather certain flowers into a bunch. For example, ask your child to “tie together the yellow flowers,” or “a red, purple, and yellow flower.”
- If you want to make these activities more difficult, just add in more information. For example, you might ask your child to get the “tall, yellow flower that has a green stem.”
Reading books is always a great way to help reinforce the different words and concepts your child is learning.
Take a trip to the library with your child, and pick out some springtime books that cover the different words and concepts that you’re teaching them. Then, go back home and read them with your child.
Let your child to ask questions and make comments while you’re reading together, and also make comments yourself during the story. Try to make more comments than questions, because this will focus the reading on teaching your child—instead of testing them.
This post was written with help from Ingrid Steyns, a rehabilitation specialist at MED-EL.
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