Here are some simple tips to help parents build speech and language practice into summer activities:
Keep It Simple
Simplicity is important no matter what the season, but it takes on a new meaning during vacation or travel periods. Remember, the most powerful things in life often are the simplest. Children don’t have to be seated for hours in a classroom or at a table piled with papers and worksheets.
Playing travel games can be great oral language activities while riding in a car, on a plane, or dining in a restaurant. (And yes, they have the added benefit of keeping young children busy.) Guessing games like 20 Questions involve asking and answering questions, giving directions or descriptions, and even rhyming. These are all excellent means of stimulating language skills.
Keep It Brief
It’s not necessary to devote long blocks of time every day to complicated speech and language drills. A few minutes here and there – like physical exercise – all add up to success.
Take a short walk once or twice a week. Work on areas of speech where children need to improve. For instance, if they struggle with their “b” sounds, point out birds, butterflies, or beach balls and blankets.
Set aside ten-minute periods. Parents can plan to do speech activities with their children right after they brush their teeth or take their baths.
Make It Fun
Speech practice shouldn’t be a power struggle or a time a child dreads. It certainly shouldn’t be punishment. Motivation is important to effective therapy, both in school and at home – or on the road.
Keep it relaxed and engaged. Make speech practice a friendly competition. At the zoo, park or playground, who can name the most words with the “r” sound? Who can name 10 things they like about the lake house? Use a timer or hourglass to really make children feel like it’s a challenge. Offer prizes, such as staying up a half hour later, choosing the family movie to watch, or sitting in the front seat on the way home.
Technology is very appealing to children of all ages. Parents can download language, reading and vocabulary apps on their mobile devices. If they have a Kindle they can let their child pick a book to download so they can read it together.