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Summer is on the horizon and that means many things! Personally, summer is my season because I celebrate my birthday and I cherish the warmer temperatures. It also means that the school year is coming to an end- and as a parent and a school-based speech language pathologist, I am overjoyed!
I am proud of the work that students, educators, and therapists did during this incredibly challenging year. This all remote/ hybrid/ in-person/ school year stretched us all in ways we never imagined, but we overcame every hurdle and we made it!
There were certainly some positive aspects to the year. Remote learning and teletherapy afforded parents and school staff the opportunity to interact and collaborate in ways like never before. Google Meet and Zoom made it easier for parents to attend meetings and play a vital role on the team. I also found myself with a front row view into my daughters' classrooms and got to see them at their best (and worst) in their learning environments. Zoom also made it possible for me to speak on virtual stages across the United States sharing the importance of representation in children's literature and teaching others how to create and utilize diverse libraries in therapy.
When I look back over the year, I can see progress. It seemed insurmountable at times, but we navigated this difficult year and we have all progressed! Whether small changes or huge gains, I am always able to see growth in my students by the time June arrives.
June is also the time when I usually send home activities for students to continue practicing skills throughout the summer months. This year I'm dialing it back a bit. Parents, enjoy the break (YOU EARNED IT!) but please don't take a break from improving speech and language skills. The wonderful thing about communication is that it happens everywhere! That means you do not have to be in a classroom, therapy room, or even in the house to encourage language.
Here are some FUN activities that you can do to help encourage language growth over the summer. These suggested activities will help your child understand new words and concepts, follow directions and become more confident in their ability to communicate thoughts and ideas. You will also be helping them develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, which are necessary to be a successful learner.
Play games. Classic board games like Candy Land and Trouble teach lots of skills such like reading, math, problem solving, and social skills. They also help improve a child’s ability to follow directions, understand questions, take turns and build vocabulary. Break out the Uno cards and gave some fun!
Go outside! Visit a local street fair, festivals, the park or the beach. Describe what you see and how the water and sand feel. Discuss the similarities and differences between people, foods, cultures, etc.
Watch sports and have your child keep score. Talk about the states/ countries the teams represent and find information about the area.
Create lists. Before packing for a trip make a list of what you'll need. Going grocery shopping? Have your child prepare a list using weekly circulars and flyers. Talk about the items pictured and allow them to search for what you need. When you get to the store, use the list to find the items.
Cook with your child. We aren't talking gourmet meals here but children love to create in the kitchen. Following a recipe requires many math and language skills. Try this easy recipe for dirt pudding or make your own play dough
READ!! Read books together, ask questions and discuss outcomes. Point to pictures and name things on the pages. Talk about what you would do if you were the characters. How does the story relate to things in your own lives? Pair books with related toys to make the experience more engaging. Check out this barbershop toy I found to pair with Liam's First Cut.
Whatever you do- remember to TALK about it! The more we communicate with each other and interact within the environment, the better our language and ability to communicate becomes.
Have an amazing summer!