The SUMMER S T R E T C HHHHHH…
By Guest Bloggers Kimberly Nertney M.S.,CCC-SLP
Pamela Talbot M.Ed, CCC-SLP, LSLS-Cert AVT of Language Launchers Inc.®
Summer fun lends itself to incredible opportunities to stretch language skills to higher levels. Did you ever stop to think about the specific words or length of sentences you use with your child during a simple playful interaction? Often, after a child has a base of vocabulary and simple conversation ability parents stop consciously thinking about the actual type of words or sentence length they use with their children. Whether the child is a new language learner or an accomplished linguist there are ALWAYS opportunities to provide a little stretch. Here’s some basic ideas to get you thinking but don’t stop here. The best learning tends to grow out of the small moments when you slow down enough to observe and follow the child’s attention to create meaningful spontaneous conversational topics.
“Have a ball”: Who knew a blow up ball could provide so many vocabulary words through the various ages and stages?
Baby: up/down, go, me, you, more/again, big, throw, catch, roll, bounce, hands.
Preschooler: kick, near/far/by, under/over, high/low, forward/backward.
Elementary age: inflate/deflate, soccer, contest, dribble, pass, shoot, toss, opponent
A sand castle: For a young toddler the interaction should focus more on the concepts used in the actual process of building. For example: filling, scooping, dumping the bucket, full/empty, big/small or basic prepositions such as in/on/under. At that stage there is lots of repetition of the concept words and enhanced intonation patterns to keep attracting the child’s ear to your voice. As the child can manage more casual conversation the topics might involve more planning before the castle construction begins. This level would use more of the language of possibility with words such as “could, would, will, should, might, may, wouldn’t, couldn’t”. For the more experienced castle builders the construction is just an avenue to the world of imagination. In this case the end product might end up to be a mermaid school or restaurant. Sometimes just adding a new object, tool or idea can sweep a child into a new dreamscape filled with entertaining conversations or storytelling……true language development in process!
Bubbles: From the simple fun of “blow and pop” with a bubble wand to the art of gigantic bubble creation there are hundreds of language lessons to be unfolded in the process. Maybe it’s a baby learning to use the power of his/her voice to make the request for more bubbles. Possibly it’s following directions to “blow bubbles from the bubble bucket with a spatula from the kitchen drawer on the left side of the sink”.
Regardless of the activity, children learn new words by hearing them in different situations and in different sentence formulations. Reviewing the events of the day at a later time the same day, making photo albums to capture the moments for conversations another day, or simple retelling the event to another family member are all ways to repeat the words and help the child store them into their auditory word bank for future use. Remember, it doesn’t need to be a big or planned event to carry the most linguistic value. Just take the time and make the effort to use new words, stretch a child’s attention to listen to longer sentences or explanations and encourage conversational turn taking……and of course don’t forget to read, read, and then read some more! Happy Stretching!