School holidays can get really busy for parents. Planning all the different ways to keep your child occupied throughout the day while trying to find the time to practice language skills can get tricky. The good news is that you don’t actually need to sit down with your child for hours to practice language.
Here are some great ways to ensure your child receives adequate language exposure these school holidays:
1. Practice On The Go
Language practice doesn’t need to be in a structured environment. Because children are observant and curious, you can stimulate your child’s language just as effectively while driving in the car, during bath time and during mealtimes .
For instance, when you are in the car with your child, you can comment on things you see. If your child makes a comment first, use what they say and expand their comment. For instance, if your child points and says, “look mummy, bike!” You can respond with, “Yes, the man is riding a bike”. By expanding, you are acknowledging what your child has said while keeping the interaction interesting.
2. Encourage Story Retelling
Story retelling is an important skill to develop because we often talk about our experiences when interacting with others. Your child will have lots of different experiences during this school break. At the end of the day, take a few minutes with your child to recall all the things they did. After you have done this, encourage your child to retell what they did that day in the order that they did it. You may need to model this to your child the first time. You may also need to provide your child with prompts to support them in structuring their story retell. For instance, you can start this off by saying “Today I…” You can also provide your child with prompts for additional detail “and then I…”. Asking your child some follow-up questions will also help prompt them to give more details.
3. Make Playdates With Other Children
Interacting with other children is the best way for your child to develop and practice their social language skills. Arranging playdates with other children will provide your child with many opportunities to do so. As your child interacts with other children, they will practice using important verbal and non-verbal social language skills such as eye contact, turn-taking and listening to others. Your child will also practice initiating activities by inviting others to join them in play or suggesting what to play with, as well as maintaining activities.
4. Let’s Pretend!
Pretend play is the foundation of language development. When children engage in pretend play, they learn to use symbols (toys) for actual objects. Similarly, when we use language, we use symbols (words) for actual objects .
Pretend play can be as simple as pretending to feed a doll or as complicated as involving a series of logical steps when visiting the doctor’s office. Encourage your child to engage in pretend play by exposing them to pretend play toys these school holidays such as dolls, dollhouses, tea sets, toy food, toy animals, toy cars and trucks. You don’t need to have such a wide range of toys available because your child will use their imagination to substitute for what they don’t have. For example, your child might use a piece of paper and pretend it is a blanket for her doll.
5. Sing Away
As most children love music, songs are a great way to interact with your child during the school holidays while stimulating their language. You can use songs to teach many different types of words. Here are a few:
· Body Parts - 'Heads and Shoulders'
· Animals - 'Old Macdonald'
· Prepositions (up, down, out) - 'Itsy Bitsy Spider'
· Counting - 'Five Little Ducks'
· Days of the week - Days Of The Week
· Letter-Sound Association - Phonics Song
· Feelings - 'If You’re Happy and You Know It'
That’s all for this week. Sign up to my mailing list to be notified about next week's article and receive your copy of the speech and language development table!
1. Pepper, J., & Weitzman, E. (2004). It Takes Two To Talk. A Practical Guide For Parents Of Children With Language Delays (Fourth Edition). The Hanen Centre: Toronto, Ontario.
2. Weitzman, E. Greenberg, J. 2002. Learning Language and Loving It: A guide to promoting children's social, language, and literacy development in early childhood settings. Toronto: The Hanen Centre.
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