It’s that time of year; spring break! Many parents are concerned about leaving home for too long in worry that their children’s speech and language skills may suffer due to missing therapy. Whether you’re having family time at home and exploring new places, traveling by car, train or plane, there are plenty of ways to incorporate your child’s speech and language goals into your travels.
On Your Way
Car games are a great way to incorporate a variety of speech and language skills.
I Spy: What a classic! Use this game to target adjectives (describing words), (i.e., “I spy something big/green/shiny). You can use this to expand your early language learner’s utterances length as well. If they are saying 2-3 word phrases such as “that green” we can expand it to “I see green”. This game would also work great to target articulation goals in the phrase “ I spy” if your child is working on /s/ blends or you can change it to “I see” for /s/ goals.
20 Questions: This game is better suited for elementary-high school students rather than young children. Start by stating if you’re thinking of a person, place or thing. The other players have 20 questions to guess what you are thinking of. Answer with only yes/no questions. This targets social and pragmatic social skills by working on: asking and answering questions, word finding skills, description skills and many other language skills. There are also many ways to incorporate articulation goals into this game. If your child is able to use their target speech sounds at the sentence level, remind them to use their target sound when asking questions.
For an easier version of the game, you can adapt the game to your child’s goals by choosing a category that you have to pick from as well (i.e., I’m thinking of something that’s an animal).
At Your Destination
Planning your day: For elementary and middle school students, encourage your child to help in planning your day. By doing so you are supporting your child’s executive functioning skills such as: planning, organizing, decision making and problem solving. This could look like asking them to come up with a list of items needed for the day. For younger children, tell them what your next plan is for the day (i.e. We are going to the beach today) and ask them what they are most excited about. There are endless opportunities to model a variety of language goals during this task.
Direction Following: For children who have direction following goals you can give a variety of directions throughout the day but make it fun! For example, when at the beach and building a sand castle, give your child directions incorporating basic concepts such as “Can you put the flag on top?” or “Let’s put all the white shells around the outside of the castle”.
When You Get Home
Write and/or Talk About Your Trip:
This is a great way to work on your child’s narrative skills along with their ability to answer wh-questions. On your way home from the trip, ask them to talk about their favorite parts. In order to reduce complexity of the task, you can ask simple wh-questions such as, “Where did we build the sand castle?” or “Who went on the plane with us?”. For older children, journaling about their trip or even sending a postcard can be a great way to focus on their narrative abilities and writing skills.