School is out and summer is in and we are greeted by longer days, warmer weather and if you’re lucky, beach-filled days! Summer is full of melting ice cream cones, pools and water slides, and family trips to visit family and new destinations. And while it is easy to slip into the relaxed days and skip our usual routines, summer still provides many opportunities to work on language with the kids. Below are some ideas on how you can incorporate language into your summer activities!
Whether traveling by car, plane, train or boat, traveling provides a multitude of chances to enrich language.
Prior to the actual travel date, sit with your child and discuss the details of the trip. Use pictures, brochures, websites and as much visual material as possible to walk your child through the plans. You can vary the detail level depending on your child’s age and cognition level. Older children can help you plan an activity, detailing what items will be needed and the steps involved, while younger children can discuss what they may see or do while doing a particular activity.
For instance going to the aquarium can lead to conversations about the animals that live there, the differences between an aquarium and a zoo, what to expect when you get there, etc. Use flashcards or toys to separate animals by whether they would be seen at the zoo or at the aquarium. Play guessing games to have your child guess what you are going to see or do. “We are going somewhere with a lot of sand and water.” “We are going somewhere to see a lot of different animals.”
Discussing how you are going to be traveling is a great way to discuss modes of transportation and their differences. Ask your child to help you think of what you will need to travel by car, plane, train, etc. ISpy is a great game while traveling to help work on verbal descriptions and identification. Counting a certain color of cars or shirts is a fun way to have your child unknowingly work on color recognition and labeling.
Packing provides a great way to introduce or continue teaching clothing items to children, as well as, the types of clothes we wear for summer versus winter. Packing is a great time to work on following directions by having children get the items needed to pack, “Please get mommy your pink shirt.” Instructions should be as complex as possible to provide a slight challenge, but not overwhelming.
Who doesn’t love some water play on a sweltering day? Most kids and some adults do as well! Water balloons, guns, sprinklers, the pool, beach or waterpark all provide much needed relief from the warm rays of the sun and more chances to get children talking.
Water play provides opportunities for children to make requests, follow directions, and use colorful, descriptive language to name a few. Children can make requests for “more balloons”, “more pool please”, or “I want more slide.” Water play can also provide great choice-making opportunities. “Do you want to play in the water or make a sandcastle?”, “Do you want the big water gun or the small water gun?”, “Do you want to more pool or more slide?”
If your family loves to pull the grill out and invite family and friends over for a good time, don’t forget to include language in the plans. Children can help plan grocery lists, while working on categorizing foods, “Is the lettuce we’re going to use in the salad a fruit or vegetable?” or descriptive concepts, “Mommy needs to buy something that we are going to use in the salad. It’s a vegetable that is green and round until we cut it up.” And kids love nothing more than to prepare something special with their mom or dad and a family cookout is a great chance for you and your child to create a masterpiece, and work on following a recipe and directions.
Language happens all the time, all around us, and once we realize how to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, we create the most language-enriched environment for our kids, allowing them to utilize and understand language better.
These are just a handful of strategies that can be used during summer to continue to facilitate and develop language growth. The goal is to keep it fun, interesting and motivating for the child. If you want more suggestions for summer strategies or have any questions regarding your child’s speech or language development, please call us at 404-606-3755.