School is out for a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean your child has to stop working on language concepts. Using these 10 tips, you can work with your child to promote his or her language skills in a fun and meaningful way!
10 Ways to Promote Language Skills During Winter Break:
- Narrate Everything: Explaining what you’re doing can help expose your child to the correct production of language concepts and verb tenses. Narration can also help to increase your child’s vocabulary size. Some examples include: “I am putting the eggs in the bowl” or “I cracked the eggs”, etc.
- Make Lists: Creating a list of items can help increase vocabulary. If you create lists with your child of grocery items, gifts needed, or even locations, it can help to promote language development and thought organization.
- Build Vocabulary: Targeting and explaining new winter words can help to improve your child’s vocabulary. Saying things like, “look at the snowman,” “the icicle is hanging from the tree,” or “look at those children sledding,” will reinforce the new words and encourage usage.
- Read Aloud: Reading aloud to your child is extremely beneficial for language development. When reading stories, emphasizing and reinforcing new words will enhance vocabulary skills, and asking questions while reading encourages understanding (e.g., what did the Polar Bear see?). If age appropriate, ask your child to retell the story (or part of the story). This will allow him or her to use new vocabulary words in context.
- Emphasize Pronouns: Many children struggle with correct usage of pronouns, so emphasizing pronouns at family functions can help reinforce correct production. Some examples include: “look what he is doing,” “she made the cake,” or “I hope we get to watch the movie!”
- Take Turns: Playing holiday games can promote your child’s ability to follow directions and learn about turn-taking. Games are a great way to target these language skills, and you can reinforce turn-taking and direction following by saying things like, “my turn” or “your turn.” Children may also benefit from posing the question, “whose turn is it?” and then allowing time for them to answer with “mine” or “yours.”
- Promote Social Skills: Pragmatic language, or the social use of language, can be targeted during winter break as well. Preparing your child to use appropriate greetings when family arrives, demonstrating appropriate volume during family gatherings, and discussing the social rules of gift exchange can be very beneficial to children who may be struggling with how to act in social situations.
- Ask “Wh”-questions: Asking your child questions throughout the day is a great way to encourage language skills, including naming and understanding functions. Questions like, “what do we use to make a snowman?” or “where do your gloves/hat/scarf go?” or “who baked the cookies?” can all help to enhance language skills.
- Use Sequencing: Discussing the appropriate sequence of actions for winter activities can not only target language concepts (e.g., first, next, last), it can also target your child’s awareness and planning. Asking your child to sequence how to get ready to build a snowman or wrap a present will allow him or her to list the steps required using many different language concepts.
- Find Similarities/Differences: Examining the similarities and differences of winter concepts as they relate to summer or other seasons can solidify a child’s understanding of seasons, as well as develop winter vocabulary. Asking questions like, “how is snow different from rain?” will target various cognitive/language skills and promote language development.