3 Speech Therapy Ideas for Summer Break
And just like that, we are officially on another long awaited summer break! For our kids, that means a break from strenuous homework, long days in classrooms, and a chance for summer fun!
As an SLP, I am always asked by parents how they can promote continued growth (or generalization) of speech therapy skills while their kids are on break. Its a wonderful question, especially since the purpose of speech therapy is for our clients to use the skills outside of the therapy room.
I recommend activities for practicing speech and language skills to be within the child's environment.
While activities like theme park outings or vacations to far off destinations are exciting, there are actually ways to work on speech therapy skills in everyday summer fun!
And the best part? Our kids do not see it as "work" or "therapy". To them, its just more fun in the sun :)
So here are some of my top choices for summer speech therapy activities to do at home or in the community and what you can be targeting!
Outdoor Water Day with Speech Therapy
Whether it is a day by the poolside, a bonfire at the beach, or basking in the lakeside sun, water days offer a refreshing take on expressive language skills and grammar (syntax).
Ask your child to describe their surroundings: everything from how deep the water goes, how it feels (temperature), what can you see under the water, and who is with them having fun.
You can practice sentence structures, verb tenses, prepositions, and POV through modeling descriptions (i.e., "Look, I see a group of ducks...on the lake!" or "Look at that! Johnny is...swimming!")
At the end of an activity or day in the sun, it might be a opportune time to talk about all the fun activities y'all did. Practicing story recall to answer wh- questions, problem solving, and planning on what to do next!
Family Game Night & Speech Therapy?!
Ready? Set? Go! Family game nights is a fun way to bring a little friendly competition to summer nights. Whether its Apples to Apples, Exploding Unicorns, or even Mario Kart, game nights provide an excellent opportunity to work on pragmatic language skills.
Practice self-advocacy skills by having the family create ground rules, expectations, and solutions for good sportsmanship! Including your child in the planning can help them be aware of the rules of the night and primes them to know what to do when they get frustrated or need a break.
Who could have thought turn taking could be exciting with board games?! It is an easy way to practice turn taking, conversation topics, and awareness of other people's perspective! Use advanced games like Settlers of Catan or Magic the Gathering to practice skills like inferencing, prediction making, and problem solving.
Whether its adventuring with Link in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, racing with friends in Mario Kart, or playing for the championship in FIFA, video games is a opportunity to work on problem solving, appropriate interactions with peers, and self-advocacy! You can also use the ground rules and expectations to set healthy times of how much screen time is okay for summer break. While I will defend gaming until the late night, I also respect and encourage parents to set those boundaries and know what their kids are playing. (Check those ratings!)
Cooking Together in the Summer
It's time to put on the chef's apron and cook with family or friends! A time when maybe we don't mind if the kitchen gets a little dirty (lol). But what about speech skills? A perfect time to work on receptive language, articulation, and stuttering!
Cause and effect is easy to visualize with cooking because the ingredients transform right in front of us! Whether its cooking books or creative So Yummy or Tasty videos, use recipes to practice following directions. And not just 1-step or 2-step directions, but dynamic directions like breaking eggs, stirring batter, or sampling of course! (my favorite step) And look at that! We are also working on vocabulary and our present progressive -ing!
Doing activities with our family and friends empowers us to learn new skills and maintain our relationships with others. It also creates a space of safety for us to try new things. This is an excellent time to work on those stuttering strategies to smoother speech or to tackle those difficult sounds with people we trust. Parents, always be sure to ask your child if its okay to work on these; its important to take their emotional reaction and sense of safety into account with articulation and stuttering.
The possibilities of what to work on are endless during summer break! By promoting a positive experience with speech therapy skills in day to day activities, you promote generalization! (my favorite word) Of course, please always consult with your speech language pathologist on how to maximize speech therapy skills for your child during this summer break!
Till Next Time,