Summer is almost halfway over and the stores are lining shelves with back to school supplies, but you haven’t practiced your child’s speech and language skills since the last bell. Don’t fret, it’s not too late to start practicing, refreshing, and getting back on track! If you can’t remember goal areas, it’s time to dig up that IEP, progress report, or if possible see if your kiddo remembers. No matter what the specifics are, most (not all) goals focus on specific sounds (articulation) or on words/vocabulary/sentences (language). Even if your child’s skill area is slightly different such as stuttering or social skills, these tips and tricks can be applied or modified slightly to provide a boost to all areas of speech and language. Here are some quick, easy, and fun activities with a language or sound-based focus to spruce up the last half of your summer!
Variations of I Spy: can be played at the supermarket, in the car, standing in lines, and requires no prep. Think about giving clues based on sounds (i.e.starts with R or ends with Z, or whatever applicable sound), categories (fruit, animal, etc.), functions (what does it do), parts, locations, what it’s made out of, etc.
I spy with my little eye something that starts with…[insert articulation sound here]
I spy with my little eye something that is a kind of fruit…or something with 2 wheels…or something for eating…or something ‘beside’ the table…or something that’s the opposite of big, and so forth.
Board Games: great for following directions, social skills, turn taking, reasoning (why), memory, recall, and may just be lying around the house unused anyway. Any game works! Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Uno, Connect 4, old maid, etc. Try some of these variations:
Have them explain the rules to you or someone else
Help them recognize the numbers and counting spaces
Ask lots of WH questions; where is your piece, why did you skip a turn, who goes next, what do we do next, when is my turn
Don’t move for them or help too much, it’s good for kids to ask for help, and then everybody talks about it
Check out the local libraries near you, almost all offer free summer reading programs for kids
Expose kiddos to different types of print like magazines, brochures, newspapers, nonfiction, poetry, cereal boxes, road signs, and supermarket aisles.
Encourage at least 20 minutes to an hour of reading each day. Setting a timer on the microwave or phone helps kids not ask a million times how much longer and gives them a visual reminder. If you have a non-reader, have siblings read to them, teach them how to look at pictures, or substitute play with print such as magnetic letters or coloring and drawing.
Make it more interesting by having them read outside, by a friend, on a cushion, in a tree, in a swing, at a park, in a car, in pajamas, with a flashlight, in a blanket fort, to music, etc.
Practicing speech and language skills over the summer doesn’t have to be a chore or a struggle (for you or them). Keep kids exposed to written words and auditory words and spoken words. Choose a book or a game and use the tips from above to morph an everyday activity into a genuine, kids-don’t-realize-they’re-even-practicing way to shine up those speech skills during the last half of this shiny summer.