Ready or not, the holidays are here. The next few weeks will be filled with parties, family celebrations, get togethers with friends, last-minute holiday shopping, Christmas pageants, classroom parties, and more. No matter how often we remind ourselves to stop, slow down, and enjoy the season, the reality is that much time is spent on the go during the holidays. Amid the hustle and bustle, young children are forming thousands of new neurological connections each day, and learning vital social and language skills. The good news for parents is that supporting your child’s speech, language, and early literacy skills can be done anywhere, even on the go.
1. Play “I Spy“
Bring language to life for your child this holiday with a vocabulary-rich game of “I Spy” on the go. Tune your tot into the novel sights and sounds of the season as you dash from one holiday event to the next. Point out the holiday decorations and winter sights as you play, but don’t stop there. To promote vocabulary growth, parents must first model more sophisticated word use. How does that translate to a game of “I Spy”? If you have a preschooler or older toddler, use a rich vocabulary in your object descriptions. Instead of “I Spy a big wreath“, say “I Spy a gigantic wreath with shimmering lights.” Instead of a “I Spy a snowman“, say “I Spy a glistening, lopsided snowman”. A tried-and-true favorite of toddlers and preschoolers that is guaranteed to get some giggles.
2. Read The Road
Challenge your child to “Read The Road” and encourage her to search for letters & logos as you run your errands or travel to holiday events. Encourage your child to “read” familiar signs by using visual cues such the as the Starbucks green mermaid, the blue eagle at the Post Office, or bright red concentric circles of Target. The print seen in our immediate surroundings and used in our everyday lives, also known as environmental print, can be found everywhere. Tune your child in to her environment. Taking the time to point out & explain environmental print encourages print awareness and is an important part of early literacy development. Children will have as much fun with this as you do, so get excited when you spot a familiar logo, and “read” away.
3. Sing Silly Songs
If your child doesn’t know classic holiday songs yet, I invite you to turn off the radio & engage in some good old-fashioned holiday singing. Why should you turn the radio off? Turning off the background music enables you to slow the pace of the song & tune your child into the words. Choose two or three favorite holiday songs and sing them every time you get in the car to run an errand, go to school, or attend a holiday event. After your child hears the song several times, pause occasionally at the end of the musical phrase to encourage her to fill in the word (i.e., “Dashing through the…SNOW! In a one horse open…SLEIGH!”). For older preschoolers who already know the classics, play a round of “Silly Songs” and encourage your child to insert a novel, rhyming word at the end of phrases (i.e., “Dashing through the…TOE! In a one horse open…NEIGH! Over the hills we…NO!”). Singing songs with your child is a fabulous way to support speech development, including the use of appropriate phrasing, intonation, and coarticulation. Music makes learning language fun for children. So sing. Get silly. Have fun. ‘Tis the season.
Not quite finished with your holiday shopping and need some last minute ideas? Take a look at our top language-building toy recommendations for babies, toddlers, & preschoolers. To receive free tips & resources on supporting early speech & language development from Building Blocks, be sure to sign up for our blog-Babble On. Free tips & tricks to help you support your child’s growth and development. What could be better than that?