As spring break approaches, parents frequently ask what they can do on their various trips so their children don’t fall behind and they can help maintain progress in speech. Without their house full of toys, they are often at a loss on how to play and incorporate speech and language practice. The short answer is, pretty much everything involves language and ordinary activities can easily be turned into a targeted speech and language opportunity! With a new environment, it can present lots of new opportunities for increasing vocabulary and new ways to use language they already have. No matter where you find yourself, from airplanes to hotel rooms, beaches to mountains, there are lots of opportunities to talk with your kiddo. Here are some specific examples:
- Identifying/Labeling: There are bound to be a lot of familiar as well as new and exciting things to see wherever you go. Depending on your kiddo’s goals, give them specific things to look for and identify or have them label things they see for you to look for. Make an “I Spy” game out of it for some back and forth fun that can be played in the airplane/car or exploring the new scenery.
- Imitating actions: This can be a great opportunity for teaching new verbs. Have your kiddo imitate your actions and then see if they can identify/use them when they come up again. Whether it be swimming or building sand castles, hiking/climbing mountains, riding new rides, or even licking an ice cream cone, there are countless activities they will engage in that will present opportunities for practicing language.
- Follow directions: Whether you’re doing it intentionally for language practice or simply trying to keep everyone together at a theme park, there will likely be novel directions given (and hopefully followed!) wherever you go. Take this opportunity to practice directions at whatever level your kiddo is practicing/performing (i.e. simple commands, one-step directions, two-step related or unrelated directions, etc.) Remember to use language at their level and one level above to ensure they understand and can be successful. Make a game out of it to make it fun while they’re still practicing goals!
- Use your imagination! Whatever the trip entails, there are always ways to encourage language. Don’t forget to label what else you see throughout your trip to give them a language model of these new and exciting things in their environment!
Therese Schmidt, MS, CCC-SLP