Family Fun Fosters Language Development

Kwick/ July 30, 2013/ Special Features

By: Sara Brown, M.A., CCC-SLP/L

Parents and caregivers frequently ask me how they can help encourage the development of their child’s language skills, especially over the summer months when academics are often not receiving as much attention. They are often surprised when I direct them to do a little online shopping or to take a trip to the lakefront with their family.

Parents should remember that family vacations are a perfect chance to not only get away from the daily grind, but also expand your child’s vocabulary and general knowledge base. Begin discussing your trip before you even start packing your bags. Look at a map together and locate where you will be and how you’re going to get there. You should talk about what you’re going to see and do while you’re on your trip, including asking your child if he has any ideas or requests of his own. If your destination is educational in nature, you can read a book about it as a way of familiarizing your child with the location. Once there, take lots of pictures, save ticket stubs, collect pamphlets, etc. When you return home, make a slideshow and/or scrapbook you and your child can look back on in order to reinforce the vocabulary and information learned.

Summertime also affords some families additional time to take day trips together. Visits to nature centers, children’s concerts, plays, and museums provide excellent opportunities to learn about new people and places, and ultimately build your child’s vocabulary. Purchasing a book or DVD about subjects of special interest is also a great idea to continue the learning experience.

Language expansion doesn’t need to take place out of the home, however. There are many different board games available that not only fulfill “Family Game Night” requirements, but also help build language-based skills, including expanding vocabulary, categorization, word retrieval, verbal memory, and comparing/contrasting abilities. Below are a few examples, including the recommended age ranges:

  • Don’t Say It (6+ years)
  • Scattergories Card Game (7+ years)
  • Hedbanz (8+ years)
  • ASAP (8+ years)
  • 20 Questions (8+ years)
  • Respond (8+ years)
  • Anomia (10+ years)
  • Blurt (10+ years)
  • Apples to Apples (12+ years)
  • Scattergories (12+ years)
  • TriBond (12+ years)
  • Taboo (13+ years)

Whether you are traveling the country or staying close to home this summer, there are multiple opportunities available for families to help encourage your child’s language development. Keep in mind that every activity is an opportunity to expand their vocabulary and expose them to new learning experiences.

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