It’s almost here – the well-deserved spring break we all count down towards. Although we will certainly miss our students, the idea of unstructured time, no meetings, looming paperwork, and departmental requests are all behind us; we can finally bask in the relaxing time off, reflecting on our accomplishments and finishing the school year strong. Many of our students with language delays will also experience this unstructured time, with parents frantically attempting to fill up their days with activities while they’re at work. They will most likely demonstrate regression in their academics and language skills that we’ve worked all year to facilitate. Most parents are unaware of just how much language can be incorporated into any daily activity. With a little bit of our help, we can assist parents with some ideas to entertain them, while also helping to maintain those skills we’ve collected data on, written reports for, and generally stressed about. Below are some ideas for a variety of age groups:
I typically try and make spring break therapy ideas very easy, approachable, and adaptive for parents of preschool-aged children given their unpredictability. This may include a short list of any language-enriched activity they may engage in on a day-to-day basis, as well as how to embed language skills within these activities. Ideas may include incorporating language into sidewalk chalk art – students can practice their articulation skills; draw stories while practicing narrative development; engage in story retell; work on qualitative and quantitative concepts; target spatial concepts; etc. Parents can also target similar concepts via dress up, beach play, pool time, car time, or any outdoor activities. Many parents already engage in these activities and just need a little help and confidence to incorporate language skills. One of my favorite packets is on Teacher Pay Teachers by Jenna Rayburn, titled “Learning through Play.”
As academics begin to increase with this age group, I try to educate parents on how beneficial reading can be for their children over the break. During IEP meetings, I generally begin discussing how I incorporate story elements, vocabulary, retell, etc. into therapy so they can do the same at home. I have the parents tell me about their children’s favorite book at home and provide a quick synopsis on how they, too, can be an SLP! Other ideas I offer include having their children help plan trips to the beach, zoo, pool, or any other outdoor activity. They can work on comparing and contrasting, predictions, recalling details, sequencing, or even find things that have their target speech sound.
With this age group, I usually advocate for more independence on the student’s part. I encourage parents and students to keep a journal to incorporate written language skills; help plan more complex tasks or trips; maintain their own schedule by keeping an agenda with their activities; or developing their own board games with written rules. Parents can even help their children develop more complex sequential skills, as well as independence, by having them help with the grocery list and cooking/baking, all while describing, planning, organizing, comparing and contrasting. I also encourage parents to read comics with their children to promote pragmatic language skills, including perspective-taking, figurative language, and social problem-solving.
I strongly believe that students should be able to enjoy their spring break the same way we do – with zero paperwork and more unstructured time. Although many students are opposed to any sort of homework, with our help these activities can be fun and occur naturally within the home environment, further educating parents on how important their interactions can be with their children when using some creativity and increasing awareness of learning opportunities.
Author: Griffin Parrott, M.Ed., CCC-SLP