As summer winds down, parents might look for ways to help their kids get back into the swing of school, including working on speech or language goals. Help caregivers take advantage of these last weeks of summer with easy activities that organically incorporate speech-language practice into daily routines.
Here are the tips I share with parents any time of year, but especially in summer when they spend more time with their kids:
- Books. This is my number-one suggestion. Reading with your child is a great way to target language. Go to the library and spend time comparing different books, putting them into categories and voting on one to take home. Or revisit old favorites by making up a new story without using the words on the page. Stop as you read and ask questions about what comes next or relate it to an experience in your own lives. Work on social skills by role-playing based on characters’ actions and then see how they can do it differently next time.
- Car games. Going on a road trip? Just stuck in beach traffic? Turn it in to a language activity. If your kids are working on sounds, play “I Spy” with their target sound or work on repetition by playing a game like the license plate game. Practicing categories also fits in easily with the alphabet game—for example, “A, my name is Anna and we live in Alabama, B, my name is Brenda and we live in Baltimore,” and so on. You can also create a group story. One person starts with once upon a time and everyone takes a turn adding one sentence to the story.
- Send postcards. Even if you aren’t going away for the summer, postcards provide a natural, accessible way to work on writing, grammar, and storytelling. Purchase one card a week and have your kids write—or draw—what they did over the past week. Join in the fun and write your own card, then ask the kids to read it out loud for any errors. It’s good for kids to see adults make mistakes, too. The best part is, if you don’t want to send them, you can address them to their classroom teacher or school speech-language pathologist and let your kids share the postcards at the beginning of the school year.
- Make a collage. Everyone loves taking pictures. Sit with your child and go through your phone photos. Print out a bunch, and put them into categories—outdoors, friends, beach, animals, and more. Then paste them onto a photo board for a great summer memento. This board is also a great visual to use for assignments about their summer vacation. If a child answers they can’t remember what they did over the break, have them refer back to their collage for inspiration.
- Baking/cooking. Involve your kids in baking or cooking a dish for a summer BBQ or pack lunches for camp. Review directions at the beginning and talk about how it’s important to follow the steps so the final result turns out right. Decorating at the end offers fun ways to work on patterns and descriptions.
Repetitive practice is daunting for many kids, and summer is a time to relax and have fun. So share these tips with parents to help them find easy ways to work speech and language practice into activities they already enjoy.
Kim Delude, MS, CCC-SLP, works for the Natick Public Schools near Boston. She also wrote the “Freddie the Fly” series of children’s books. Find more tips by following Delude on Instagram @thespeechvine. firstname.lastname@example.org.