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Holiday Language Development Made Easy: 5 Simple Ways to Build Language Skills this Holiday Season

Language is a learned process and you are your child’s first teacher! Since families often spend more time together during the holidays, what better time is there to focus on language-learning at home? The idea of “practicing” language at home may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Check out these easy and fun ways to boost your child’s language skills this holiday season:

1. Find Santa:

Look for a “Where to Find Santa Claus Map” online or use your imagination and create a map with paper and markers. Use this activity to practice spatial concepts such as in front of, behind, top, bottom, between etc. Describe Santa’s possible location using different spatial concepts like, “Santa lives on top of the world”, “He is next to the polar bears’ igloo”, “Santa’s workshop is between two oceans.” You can also follow Santa on this online tracker. Talk about him flying “over the ocean,” putting presents “under the tree” or “landing on top of the rooftops.” If you have an older child, find the North Pole on a world map or globe and talk about how to get there by combining spatial concepts with real countries and oceans.

2. Decorate:

When decorating your home, try using descriptive words. Descriptive words appeal to our five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. Use language that describes colors, smells, shapes, sizes, texture and even tastes (there’s so much to taste during the holidays!). By using descriptive language ourselves, we are exposing our children to lots of new vocabulary. Try expanding on your child’s speech by adding a descriptive word to what your child has said; for example, if your child says, “Santa’s beard” you can say, “Santa’s long, white beard!” or "Santa's scratchy beard".

3. Sing songs:

The holidays is a great excuse to blast the holiday favourites such as:

Jingle Bells

Deck the Halls

Dreidel Dreidel

I want a Hippopotamus

Frosty the Snowman

O Christmas Tree

Santa Claus is coming to Town

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

Visit our last blog post for a refresher on the benefits of singing with your child. Music helps children with routine, vocabulary, turn-taking and motor skills, just to name a few.

4. Get outside:

Venturing outside provides a great opportunity to practice verbs and descriptive vocabulary. A simple way to do this is to talk about what you are doing! For example if you go sledding, try phrases like “We are going fast” “Let’s climb up the hill” or “I am sledding”. If visiting a tree farm is more your style, use it as an opportunity to talk about how the trees are the same or different: some trees are big or small, tall or short, some tress have lots of pine needles or few pine needles. If you have opted for an artificial tree, try talking about the different colors, sizes or features (“this one has lights built into the tree.”)

Once the decorations are up, take a walk or drive through a neighborhood known for the Christmas lights and decorations; imagine all there is to see, describe, compare/contrast!

5. Read holiday or winter books:

If you don’t have your own seasonal books, visit your local library, school library or bookstore. At this time of year they likely have a holiday display! As you read to your child, talk about what is happening in each picture. While reading with older children, try pointing out some of the words while you read. To build vocabulary and keep your child engaged, stop and ask questions as you go (e.g., who, what, where, when, why). For older children, work on higher level language skills such as making predictions (e.g., “What do you think will happen next?”). As you read your child’s favourite holiday books over and over again you can start to ask your child to fill in the blanks, retell the story or act out their favourite part!

We hope this gives you some ideas for ways to help your child expand his/her language skills over the holidays. If you need more ideas or have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us!

Happy Holidays from everyone at Aurora Speech Clinic,

Paula Bulux

Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA)

Aurora Speech Clinic

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