As we approach May (which happens to be Speech and Hearing Month), the weather is finally starting to feel like spring! When I look at the weather report for the upcoming weeks, I start to smile thinking about all of the fun things I can do outside. The options are endless. I can explore the city, work on my garden, visit outdoor attractions, etc…
All these exciting, outdoor activities provide new, naturalistic opportunities to facilitate language development. And the best part is, they are fun for the both you and your child! But before we dive into some fun activity suggestions, let’s talk about some strategies we can use to promote your child’s language development. You can facilitate language development with your child by using the following strategies during play, conversations, activities etc…
- When speaking to your child, you should be face-to-face with him/her. This gives your child a visual model of how to articulate speech sounds and teaches your child the social communication skill of using eye contact.
- During play follow your child’s lead. Use his/her interests to spark conversations and play. This will give you the most opportunities to facilitate language.
- Use self-talk to describe what you are doing. Introduce your child to adult syntactical structures and increased vocabulary. Use this strategy while in the car and passing various attractions, during your daily routine (ie: doing laundry, making dinner etc…).
- Use parallel-talk to describe what the child is doing. Introduce your child to adult syntactical structures and increased vocabulary. ie: If your child is playing with a car, describe the car, how it is moving, where it is going etc…
- Use open-ended questions to keep conversations continuous and avoid limited and “right” or “wrong” responses.
- In conversations, demonstrate turn-taking, a skill used to have a socially acceptable conversation. After speaking, pause and allow your child time to respond. Reward your child’s communication attempts.
- Use expansions during conversations and play with your child. An expansion is restating and completing your child’s utterance. ie: If your child says “block fall,” you say, “Yes, the block is falling.” This helps give your child a good speech model.
- Use extensions during conversations and play with your child. An extension is correcting a child’s utterance and adding additional, relevant information. ie: If your child says “block fall,” you say, “Yes, the block is falling. The blue block is falling. The blue block is too heavy.”
Keeping the above strategies in mind and this gorgeous spring weather, I encourage you to get outside, have a blast and promote language with some of these spring themed language activities….
- Go for a walk! Comment on the things you see, hear, feel, and smell. For example, comment on the blossoming trees, the chirping birds, the soft grass, and/or the scented flowers. The topics to talk about are endless. Provide a good language model for your child and you will help promote his/her language development. Use expansions and extensions to acknowledge and elaborate on your child’s communication.
- Plant something! Practice following directions and build vocabulary while following the steps needed to plant a beautiful flower. Use self-talk and parallel-talk to describe what you are doing or what your child is doing.
- Read a spring book! Books provide a motivating context for children to be engaged and intrigued by the words they hear and the pictures they see. Use books to engage in a joint activity with your child. Books give your child the opportunity to hear many words. They give you, as the parent, the chance to explain new words to your child. Books also encourage children to ask questions or comment on things they see. Follow your child’s lead and see what interests them throughout the book. Some of my favorite spring books are “Planting the Rainbow” by Lois Elliot and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle.
There are so many creative ways to facilitate language development with your child! Take advantage of this spring weather to partake in fun, language rich activities. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech and/or language development, contact The Possibilities Clinic and we will be happy to help.