The holiday season is the time for merry and celebration. It brings friends and family together with a bustling of activity all around. For the same reasons, the festive or holiday season is also a great time for speech and language stimulation for your child.
Whenever a SLP says ‘speech and language stimulation’, they mean – preparing your child for:
- Engaging in conversation
- An increase vocabulary
- Encourage use of longer sentences
- Enable them to use language for a range of social purposes
There are easy ways to achieve your goals. Read on for ideas
(*Remember- you are your child’s first and significant model. Put on your thinking hat to create. Make language learning fun!)
The celebration is definitely a great time to reinforce descriptive language for children. Use situations to discuss items concerning texture, shapes, colors, taste, and other features. This will help in understanding concepts and increase vocabulary. For example, if you are decorating the Christmas tree, describe the items you are putting on like ‘I am now putting up the red star’ or seek your child’s help like ‘can you bring me the big, green ball’.
In addition to describing, use the opportunity to introduce new vocabulary to the child. Expose them to the festival-related words, highlight them in your speech, have them repeat after you, and practice it in conversation. For example, say things like ‘I made Pongal today, do you want to taste it? tell me if it is sweet’. If your target word is ‘sweet’ and ‘taste’, repeatedly use it in your conversation. Say, ‘Now you tasted it. Is it sweet?
Following directions can be a rather complex task for children. It will require identification of words, comprehending the vocabulary, use of working memory, and applying adequate attention and focus. Hence, it is always better to begin with single-step instructions and then move on to multiple/ sequential steps. You can use activities like gift wrapping, following recipes, or decorating. If your child can follow simple single-step directions, you can advance to sequential steps, mixing up the steps (before-after directions: add the sugar to the milk after you bring it from the kitchen) and use of spatial directions (above, under, besides).
Group activities with games, book reading, opening gifts are easy activities to work on turn-taking. Explain to your child how the activity works, then take turns with your child in doing the task. For example, while opening gifts, you take the lead and then ask another adult to open theirs and then, ask your child to open his/hers. Establish that your child needs to wait for his/ her turn patiently.
Problem-solving is a skill that is essential for regular day-to-day activities. When a child encounters a social situation that he/she is facing for the first time, it requires them to process it to respond appropriately. For example, when the child meets a relative or friend for the first time, train them to think of the appropriate response.
Emotions and perspective taking
Festivals are the time when a lot of people come together. It would seem like an ideal time for teaching children about emotions. Your child will receive a live demonstration and he/she can be encouraged to think. For example, when you have to gift someone, encourage your child to think of what would make them happy, to think from their perspective, their need. Similarly, when you get a gift, speak about how and why it makes you happy.
These are a few things that you can try at home and at your own leisure. The best part is that you do not need additional materials or extra time to implement these. Do not hesitate to contact your SLP or any rehabilitation professional if you think you need help.
Also read ‘Parental Role in Language Development‘ for more insights.