Our lives are busy: work, family, extracurricular activities, multiple children with various needs…how can we parents find time to encourage our children to communicate?
The good news is, you don’t have to specially carve out time to work on language skills. Language and communication is all around us! And there are endless opportunities during a day; we just need a bit of creativity to seize the right moment and use fun interactions to help our children.
Here are some no-frills, easy activities you can consider doing with your kids to help with their receptive and expressive language skills. You may want to tailor the clues and sentences to your child’s level but these are some of my favourite on the go language activities to do with my kids.
I spy” on the road or at a restaurant while waiting for food
For example, when waiting for food at the restaurant, instead of waiting in silence or giving your child the iPad, why not encourage your child to observe what’s around the restaurant and give you clues to something they have spotted in the room that you have to guess? “I spy with my little eye, something that is black, and shiny, and has coffee grounds in it” (a coffee machine).
Play “Guess Who” or “Guess What” over a meal
After a family outing, you can recount what you saw by describing the people, scenery, or activity and get your child to guess who or what you were describing (or vice versa).
Encourage sound play at bath time
For younger kids, bath time is an excellent time to encourage communication. Make silly sounds or sing songs with them!
Involve your children when cooking or doing chores
You could label your actions: “I’m chopping onions” or “I’m washing veggies” or have them follow instructions to a simple task: e.g., “Help me put the clothes in the wash and turn on the power. So, what did I ask you to help me do first?”
Take out one toy at a time
As you are only taking out one toy at a time, this creates opportunities for the child to communicate with you when they want more toys. When they make that request you can then encourage them to practice the language or speech skills they have been tasked. E.g., lengthening their sentences, or working on a specific speech sound, or using grammatically correct sentences…
Do you have any fun and quick games you play with your kids to encourage them to talk? Cheryl Ye is a certified practising speech pathologist and runs a growing and dynamic private practice Speech Ease Speech Pathology based in Point Cook and West Melbourne in Victoria. You can find out more about them at: www.speechease.com.au or connect with them on Facebook @speecheasesp