The weather is clearing. Winter is becoming a distant memory as colorful blooms and pollen fill the air and we are blessed with longer days to enjoy it all. Spring always brings a welcome relief from the confining cold of winter and as you figure out the best ways to spend the beautiful Spring days, we thought we’d bring you some tips on how to make the most out of language with your child this season!
One of my favorite things to prepare for with the coming of Spring is my garden. Gardening offers a very rewarding and educational opportunity for kids to get active and learn something new!
Parents who garden can offer their kids a variety of language opportunities beginning with having them help you plan the garden, which will give them the chance to work on sequencing to determine the steps needed to plant the garden; vocabulary as you determine which fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers etc. to grow and the associated vocabulary with the plant life cycle.
All gardeners know that following directions is essential to success, and thus provides great opportunities to have children follow simple and complex directions, such as, “Please bring mommy the water hose,” (simple); “First water the red roses and then dig a little hole next to the carrots,” (complex). Children can also work on verbal language by telling other family members what they did in the garden, what they planted and what they need to do to make it grow, etc.
Describe and ask your child questions about what you and they are doing as you are working in the garden and then later that day to work on recall and answering questions.
Many families like to clear the clutter in Spring, after the dust from the holidays has settled and we’ve all caught a second wind. Cleaning and chores can be used as language opportunities with kids and as ways to help them learn responsibility.
While incorporating language into your Spring cleaning may not be as fun for kids, it is definitely worth it, to provide them the extra practice.
Cleaning is great time for preposition work. Have your child pick up the things under their bed, push chairs under the table, take everything off the counter, put the dishes in the sink or next to the sink, etc.
You can play ‘I Spy’ as you and your child take turns picking up the items ‘spied’ (“I spy with my little eye something you use to color. They come in all different colors.” [crayons]), helping them work on verbal descriptions. Cleaning, like gardening, also provides chances for children to follow simple and multi-step directions.
In many cities, mine included, Spring ushers in an array of fun festivals and events all over the city. From food tastings to art festivals and jazz concerts in the park, Spring often gets families out and about in the city but sometimes brings added pressure to parents of children with language disorders when it comes to making sure children are able to enjoy and get the most of out of events.
Planning ahead a little can help alleviate some of the pressure. Go online a week or so before the festival and look at pictures with your children and talk about what to expect at the event. Discuss everything from the amount of people that may be there; how noisy it may be; what you will do there; how to stay safe; food options that may be available; what the bathroom may look like, etc. Discussing as much as possible before the event gives kids the chance to process what will happen and what to expect.
Creating social stories, where you detail what will happen the day you go to the event, can be very helpful for children with autism. Creating a ‘countdown calendar’ a week or more prior to the event helps kids prepare as well and reduce anxiety that may be associated with going into a new environment. Role-playing is a great way to help your child become comfortable with new conversations they may have.
Bright and sunny Spring days offer the perfect weather to go out, enjoy and talk about nature with your kids. Hikes are a good way to slow down and discuss the changes that happen around us. Kids tend to be naturally fascinated by nature and Spring offers the chance to discuss leaves growing back on trees and now being green; flowers blooming and bees helping; the changes in weather, etc. Enrich vocabulary with colors, names and shapes of flowers, fruits, and vegetables; animals that ‘wake up’ in the spring; weather and clothing, etc.
Go on a picnic where you and your child plan the lunch menu together. Discuss foods that are usually eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Talk about the time of day we eat each meal, where you will go for your picnic and allow your child to decide what you will eat on your picnic (preferably from predetermined choices you have already selected). Bike-riding, going to the beach or the park, or flying a kite are all great outdoor activities to have fun and get and get your child communicating!
Every season is ripe with opportunity to enhance your child’s communication and Spring is no exception. With the abundance of beauty that can be enjoyed in nature there are countless ways to spend Spring days and work on language at the same time! If you have any questions about your child’s speech or language skills, please contact us at 404-606-3755!