We all made it (or, at least almost made it!) through these last 2 months of school distance learning! Phew, take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back! But wait...now what? With less summer camps, less activities/events/places open, and probably less interactions with friends, you may be wondering how you can promote speech, language and pragmatic skill growth at home. Worry no more! We have some fun activities for you to try!
1. Obstacle Courses - All you need is painter’s tape or chalk and you are ready to make a fun and educational activity! For younger kids, you can work on following directions at different stations targeting: simple verbs (jump, clap, spin, etc), prepositions (jump over the line, climb under the table, stand on the line), colors (draw a yellow line, touch something blue, name something that is red), categories (name 3 zoo animals, colors, vehicles), to name a few. For older kids, have different stations targeting: sight words (have your child write in chalk 10 sight words), 2-step directions (lay on the group and then do 5 sit ups), phonological awareness activities (tell me 2 words that rhyme with “ball,” say “cat” without the /k/ sound, count the number of syllables in the words helicopter, baseball, butterfly) and many more.
2. Scavenger Hunts - Scavengers hunts inside and outside are great ways to work on vocabulary (find a utensil, branch, ruler), describing words (something soft, fuzzy, rough, tall, spikey), counting (find 3 ___), categories (bring me 4 things that are cold/you wear). You can make a fancy computer-version or a simple BINGO board on a sheet of paper. Write the different “things” your child needs to find. You can have them cross off each thing as they find them. This can also be adjusted for going on a walk or going to the zoo, etc. For kids working on speech sounds, you can have them think of things that start with their sound or only find things that start with their sound.
3. Read - Reading is so incredibly important for all ages! Even if your baby just wants to flip through the pages, you can talk about the pictures as you read with him. Preschool/Kindergarten aged kids can work on pointing out words they know as you read. Older children can work on their reading fluency and sounding out harder words. You can also ask WH questions (who, what, where, when, why) questions about the story after you/they read. For kids working on speech, have them point to their letter sound in words and practice saying the sound at the appropriate level (this is something you can ask your child’s therapist if you aren’t sure!).
4. Conversations - Your kids may “have nothing” to tell you….but they may enjoy having a conversation on the phone or through FaceTime with Grandma, Uncle Joey, or their best friend. If they have difficulty with any social skills, this is a great time to work on using greetings (hi, bye), eye contact, facing the video as they talk to a person, taking turns talking, maintaining conversations and answering the questions the other person asks, and asking the other person questions. For some kids, talking on FaceTime may be a source of anxiety. Have him practice what he’s going to say or topics they can talk about on the phone. If your child is working on any speech sounds, this can be a time for him to try to use his speech sound for 2-3 minutes while talking to Grandma on the phone.
5. Make Believe - Who doesn’t love pretending to be a Disney princess?? Your whole family can get dressed up and pretend to be going to a fancy dinner. You can have your child go around the house and pick up items to use in his pretend store. You can use real money or make pretend money. For kids who are school age, this can be a great time to practice money skills and counting. Have your children work together to create a play or puppet show - create tickets, have snacks and go watch the show! Create an indoor (or outdoor!) camping night. Have your child help you think of all the things you may need (pillows, sleeping bags, flashlight, books, food). What are some activities you can do in a tent (read, play games, tell stories)? How will you make sure everyone has fun?
There are so many more great ways to promote development at home too! One great thing is to follow your child’s lead. If he wants to play, PLAY! If he wants to pretend to be a puppy dog, LET HIM! Almost ANY activity can promote language development and creativity. Most importantly, try to have some fun :)