5 Activities to Promote Language Use in the Car

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much longer? Are these commonly heard phrases in your car? It’s summertime and a road trip is just around the corner.

Learn 5 activities for car rides that are not only fun, but a great way to encourage language skills on the go!

  1. I Spy: “I spy with my little eye…” Use this game to target the following skills:
    • Articulation: See if you can find objects, restaurants, stores, etc. that begin with the sound your child is working on in speech therapy.
    • Receptive language: Ask your child to find 5 items outside the car that belong to a certain category. For example, “Can you find 5 different animals?”
  2. Story Time: Making up silly stories can make for a fun ride! Ask your child to make up a story using ideas, activities, or characters he sees out the window. Be sure the story follows an appropriate sequence of events. This activity can also be a team game. Each person in the family takes turns adding a sentence to the story!
  3. Camping Trip: This is a game to get the whole family involved in your child’s language development. The game begins with one person saying, “I went on a camping trip and I brought…” The frist person states an item that begins with the letter A (apple). The following family member repeats the phrase and adds his own item beginning with the letter B (“I went on a camping trip and I brought an apple and a bouncy ball”). See how far down the alphabet you can get while you target auditory memory, attention, and phonemic awareness!
  4. Clue: This game is great for targeting receptive and expressive language!
    • Receptive Language: Tell your child you are thinking of an object. Provide “clues” (function of the object, category, attributes, etc.) to help them figure it out!
    • Expressive Language: Now it is your child’s turn! Let your child provide you with clues and see if you can figure out what object he is thinking of.
  5. Rhyme: It is rhyme time! Take turns picking a word. Work together or make it a race to see who can find the most objects outside the car that rhyme with the chosen word!

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Home Activities for Articulation Therapy

The more you practice a movement, the stronger your muscle memory gets, until the movement becomes habitual. This concept applies to both gross and fine motor movements as well as to the movement of the articulators: the jaw, tongue, and lips. If a child focuses on practicing speech sounds once a week, they will progress. However, if the target sound is practiced every day, the child will demonstrate even faster progress.Father communicating with child

Think of doing a jumping jack. We all learned that jumping jacks are done by jumping up and spreading your legs apart horizontally while clapping your hands above your head. Now try doing a jumping jack by jumping up and spreading your legs front/back while clapping your hands above your head. (Caution: you may feel very uncoordinated!) It may be difficult at first, but after doing it a few times, the movement becomes easier. Because you were taught the traditional way of doing a jumping jack, trying to do it another way is difficult. Keep this demonstration in mind as your child similarly tries to re-learn how to pronounce their target sound.

Tips for carry-over activities at home

  1. Repetition: make it a point to set up times throughout the day to practice target sounds (For example, driving home from school or before you brush your teeth).
  2. Encouragement: I see children that try their very best and still just can’t quite get the sound right. Offer positive encouragement and only prompt the child to pronounce the target word/sound three times before moving on to the next item.
  3. Acknowledgement:  Mention that you know the child is doing their best and recognize how challenging this is for them.

Motivating Your Child to Practice Their Speech-Language Skills at Home

If your child has recently started speech-language therapy, their therapist is likely assigning activities to practice throughout the week. With 1-2 hours of weekly therapy, why is there a need to also practice at home? This is a common question for many parents. It might feel overwhelming to add another item on ABC Lettersyour weekly to-do list with the many demands of life.

When it comes to speech and language therapy, practicing skills throughout the week can mean all the difference in your child’s progress. Your therapist is likely working toward your child’s achievement of very specific and measurable goals, whether trying to replace old habits with new habits, or teaching entirely new skills. Acquiring speech and language skills requires consistent practice throughout the week. I often compare speech and language home-practice to working out at the gym: 1 hour a week is unlikely to make a difference. However, 4-5 days per week will lead to faster progress and noticeable results. So how can you help your child practice at home? Enjoy these 5 tips to encourage your child toward achieving their speech and language goals throughout the week.

5 ways to encourage your child to practice at home:

1. Make a plan with your child’s therapist. If home-practice is not going well, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s therapist for more guidance. Your therapist will help you determine how often you should practice with your child, as well as specific activities and ways to keep them motivated.

2. Make a chart. Include days, times, and specific activities to practice throughout each week. If your child is older, let them monitor their chart by taping it on the refrigerator and adding stickers after assignments are completed. You might even create a reward system for accomplishing a weeks’ worth of practice.

3. Set a schedule. If you’re having difficulty finding the time to practice, setting a schedule will help you prioritize homework. You might set aside 15 minutes after school each day, or 10 minutes on your way to soccer practice in the afternoons.

4. Incorporate goals into your child’s daily routine. Use your therapist as a resource to help you determine which goals can appropriately be incorporated into daily routines. For example, you might practice pronouns (e.g. “he” and “she”) while playing Barbies with your child, or categories (e.g. cold things, hot things, dairy products, etc) during trips to the grocery store.

5. Take advantage of one-on-one time with your child. I typically prefer parents to practice speech and language skills with their child. The feedback and guidance is very helpful while kids are learning new skills. Enjoy this time alone with your child, by setting a special “mommy and me time” or “daddy and me time” to practice together. Your therapist will have ideas for specific games, toys or books that will be fun and engaging for your child to practice their speech and language goals in a way that doesn’t feel like “homework”.

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What Will Happen During My Child’s Pediatric Therapy Visit?

Concerned Mother With BoySetting Straight Therapy Myths

If you, your pediatrician, your child’s teacher or someone else important in your child’s life just told you that your child would benefit from physical, occupational, or speech and language therapy services you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed and uncertain about what to expect.

Some questions you may have about your child’s therapy

  • Will they put my child on a couch and talk to him/her?
  • Will they attach electrodes to the affected area? Read more