Easy home practice activities for speech therapy: Holiday Edition
With the holiday season right around the corner, schedules are about to get crazy. Between traveling, school breaks, and family obligations, time to dedicate to speech may seem nonexistent. However, similar to crawling and walking, speech and language can't afford to take a holiday break.
No worries! Speech and language can be practiced naturally throughout your day. Here are some easy activities to incorporate into your daily routine to continue practicing your speech and language.
1. At the dinner table
One common thread of the holiday season is there is no shortage of food and sweets. While this may be detrimental to our waistlines, it affords us ample opportunities to model and practice language! Have your children label what's on the menu, practice sequencing with recipes, work on expanding language by asking open-ended questions and recasting your child's responses! There are endless ways we can take advantage of mealtime if we slow down enough to be intentional about our language and invite our children to be active participants.
2. Getting ready for bed
School might be closed, but routines remain! No matter how simple or elaborate your bedtime routines are, they offer an easy, private moment to practice speech and language. Brushing teeth is a great time to take advantage of bathroom mirrors and practice speech sounds. Putting on pajamas is a great chance to sequence actions (first pants on, next shirt on, etc.). When you're tucking your child in, practice counting while counting sheep. Be creative!
3. In the car
We all know the sign game, 20 questions, or a version of a car game to help time pass more quickly. Make a game out of working on speech sounds, rhyming words, or segmenting! Run through the alphabet (depending on how long the car ride to grandma's is!). If the target is /b/ words, have your child tell you a list of animals that start with /b/ (bat, bear, bug, etc.). When you've gone through the alphabet, move on to rhymes! Give your child a word that starts with /d/ and have them tell you another word that rhymes! Another way to use this time is to practice word segmenting which is a foundational reading skill. Give them a word and have them tell you the sounds in the word (ex. "bat" --> "b" "a" "t"). Using your car ride as a functional time to practice speech and language is not only a productive use of time, it will also help the car ride go fast and keep your child preoccupied and not asking "are we there yet."
Books are most likely already a part of your daily life. Don't let this change during the craziness of the holidays! Use this time as an opportunity to read books that focus on this season, giving you opportunities to make connections between the book content and what is happening in real life. For example, if it is snowing outside, read a book such as "Snow" by Uri Soulevitz and add in information about what is happening outside your home! If you celebrate Thanksgiving, read a book such as "How to Catch a Turkey" by Adam Wallace and talk about how your family celebrates. If you go on a family vacation during winter break, read a book such as "The Berenstain Bears Go on Vacation" by Jan Berenstain and talk about where your family is going. This helps your child make connections in things in their lives and helps to promote language growth and reading skills.
5. On the go
One thing that is a consistent theme of the holiday season is there is never enough time. Somehow we are always on the go, shuffling from one activity to the next. While you're jumping from place to place, practice speech and language with fun tablet apps such as "100 Words for Babies and Toddlers" or for older kids "Splingo's Language Universe." If you don't use tablets, have a few activity books ready to go in the car or in your bag. Here is a great car activity book! Here is a great Christmas activity book! Here is a great Hanukkah activity book! Use screen time in a productive way and put on videos such as Miss Rachel or ABC Ya!