Back to School Language Tips
During these unprecedented times, you may have many unanswered questions about the upcoming school year. Will my child go to back school or complete distance learning at home? How can I teach my child what they need to continue to grow? How will I be able to work with them while doing work myself? Regardless of where your child completes their schoolwork, you can easily incorporate language and learning into daily tasks you are already completing. There are many ways to build your chil¬d’s language without making drastic changes in your normal life. Teaching language naturally within daily routines is anything but “routine”! It is an exciting, familiar, and engaging way for kids to learn meaningful information that they can use every single day.
Children thrive off of a consistent schedule and you likely already have them within your daily lives. For example, most families have a consistent morning, mealtime, or bedtime routine. If you don’t feel like you have much daily consistency, that’s okay! There’s no better time than this coming school year to incorporate some stability in your and your child’s lives. By knowing what is expected during an activity (i.e. getting ready each morning), they are able to focus on the language rather than guessing what will happen next. In addition, learning in a natural and engaging way within routine activities allows your child to retain the information and use it in a meaningful way!
Every morning is a fresh opportunity to help your child learn and grow. When getting dressed, you can work on following directions and understanding common words with toddlers, such as “sit down”, “pull up your pants”, or “where’s your shoes?”. You can also work on requesting/ labeling items. By having your child use their words to tell you what they want, you are showing them that their words are powerful and get them what they want. Don’t be afraid to use wait time. When getting dressed, if your child points to their shoes to request them, hold the shoe up and say “I have your SHOE… you want the…..” and wait to see if they say the word themselves. For kids with more language, you can describe the styles of clothing (jeans, sweats, sweater, etc) or the weather outside (i.e. “what kind of shoes should we wear since it’s raining?”).
You can also work on your child requesting what they need for breakfast. Sabotage, where you do something wrong on purpose, is another great strategy to use to elicit spontaneous words. For example, you can give your child their cereal without a spoon and wait to see if they ask for it on their own. Sabotage can also be used with older kids! You can “forget” how to make cereal and have your kid tell you what to do. Make sure you do exactly what they say- so if they tell you to “put the cereal in the bowl” before they have you open it, set the whole box of cereal in the bowl. Not only will they find this absolutely hilarious, but they will also need to use more specific language and sequencing vocabulary to get you to do it right!
We may not know what this coming school year will bring, but by incorporating language into normal activities you are helping your child learn in the most functional and natural way. Remember, each morning is a fresh start to make a routine activity anything but!
Speech and Language Pathologist
St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf