Encouraging your child’s speech and language development through the holiday season

You’ve got shopping to do, parties to attend and checklists to conquer. Yes, the holidays have arrived! Amidst the busy schedules and high demands of the season, keeping up with your child’s developmental needs can sometimes feel overwhelming. Worry no more, because the holiday season is filled with natural and enriching opportunities to encourage your child’s speech and language development. So instead of postponing that family getaway or neighborhood potluck, enjoy these parent tips to keep your child learning through the holidays.

Tips to Encourage Speech in Children

Holiday Baby• Take digital pictures during special family events. Whether you’re building a snowman, baking cookies, or packing your suitcases for a getaway, document the adventures! Afterwards, print out pictures and create a construction paper book. Guide your child as you put each picture in order and glue them onto the pages. Talk about what happened. Who was there? Where did you go? What happened first? Encourage your child to share their book with family and friends!

• Bake cookies together! Write out a list of ingredients and supplies you will need. Enjoy an outing to the grocery store, and cross each item off the list as you put them in the shopping cart. Come up with a game plan for how to bake the cookies. Write out each step, and draw a picture to go along with it (e.g. step #1: stir the dough, step #2: roll out the dough, etc.). Encourage your child to share their cookies with family and friends! Describe how they made the cookies (e.g. First… then…last…).

• Enjoy making holiday crafts together! You might make special greeting cards or a paper plate snowman. Incorporate vocabulary related to the holiday season (e.g. winter, family, celebrate, sledding, gift, etc.). Talk about what you are doing as you make the craft (e.g. “We are cutting the paper! Next we will glue on a hat!”).

• Write a letter to a special family member or friend. Help your child plan out what the letter will say. What will it say in the beginning? What will it say in the middle and at the end? Prompt your child as you write out each sentence. You might even take it to the mail together. Where does mail go? Who delivers mail? What is a stamp? Depending on your child’s age, incorporate new vocabulary into this fun project!

• Sing holiday songs! Use hand-motions and gestures as you sing. Talk about the words that rhyme in the song. Talk about the meaning of new words. As your child becomes familiar with each song, you might leave out words for your child to fill in “Frosty the snowman, was a jolly happy ____”.

• Read books about winter or the holidays. Point to pictures as you label them. Describe what is happening in each picture. Ask your child questions. Who is sledding? What is the boy doing? Where is the snowman? Encourage your child to tell their favorite stories to family and friends.

• Include your child in decorating your house for the holidays! Give your child special jobs to complete (e.g. Put the book on the table. Put the snowman next to the fireplace). Encourage your child to include their own ideas!