Winter gets long for everyone, especially kids. How can we as parents survive spring fever? Listed below are fun ideas for parents to create distractions that also help kids to practice building communication skills. The greatest advice I can give is to be goofy and laugh with your child! Use a strange or silly voice to gain your child’s attention while playing. Pairing visuals with the following activities can make the experience better for the whole family. Your speech language pathologist is ready to answer questions and can help with printing visuals.
Take a blanket or sheet and throw it over a table to create an inviting space for imagination and communication to take place. Place your child’s favorite stuffed animals, books or toys inside. The sky is the limit for communication models in this environment.
Place a blanket over yourself and lay still. Make silly noises, slowly get up, and move toward your child. Last, jump out and say “boo.” Take turns being the monster. This game extends play turns, practices back and forth (reciprocal) communication, and builds anticipation for what is going to happen next.
Take out an umbrella and spray bottle. Your child can put on rain boots and a coat. He can walk by as you spray him with water (pretend rain). Topics that could be modeled include: how much rain (a little or a lot), location (on boots, coat, umbrella), or who sprays (mom spray, dad spray).
Pick out your child’s favorite book. Find props around the house that go with the story. Choose roles and act out the story.
Materials could be: painters tape, rope, tunnel, trampoline, couch cushions, or anything that a child can go under, over and around. Have a clear beginning and end to the course. Time how quickly the child completes the course and you narrate each move. Next, switch roles, the child takes a turn narrating and timing you, as you move through the obstacle course.
Prepare a meal or bake together. I’d advise getting all items measured out and prepared before the child is helping. This leaves more time for communication and less time for frustration. Talk about each step and allow your child to participate.
To wrap things up, be encouraged and inspired to play! Parents, you’ve got this. Bring the outdoors into your home and survive spring fever with your child. The ideas listed above aren’t set in stone, feel free to expand on them or try your own ideas to increase your child’s communication skills.
Natalie Wark, M.A., CCC-SLP