Have you ever noticed that speech therapists seem a little obsessed with books? Have you ever wondered why?
Books are the original therapy activity. Before there were apps and play doh mats and sensory bins, books were around providing all the speech, language, and literacy stimulation you could want. Books offer a nearly endless number of opportunities to practice understanding language, using language, pre-literacy skills, speech sounds… this list could go on for awhile…
If you’re looking for something to do with your child during this extended period of isolation, but you don’t have the time, energy, or motivation (or the ability to get the materials) to make slime and homemade play doh, head to the nearest bookshelf. We have some activity suggestions that will provide lots of fun opportunities for language practice:
Books expose children to all sorts of new vocabulary; all we need to do is talk with our kids about what the new words mean! Take a moment when you are reading to think about which words might be unfamiliar - words like terrified creeping exhausted snare clever. During reading, link these words to words that are familiar to your child (e.g. someone who is terrified is very scared!), and you’ll be excited to see how fast your child’s vocabulary grows!
2. Understanding Questions
Understanding and answering questions is a super important language skill, especially as kids enter school! The ability to understand, ask, and answer questions is necessary to participate in conversation with peers, and to participate in the classroom. While you read a book, you can stop and ask your child about what has happened. Who just tripped and fell? What are they playing with? What do you think will happen next? Why is he angry? It’s OK if your child doesn’t know the answers to all the questions - you can provide the answers so that they begin to make the connections!
3. Social Language
While you read, stop and talk with your child about the characters. Social language and communication skills are important for building social relationships, as well as for academic success. Understanding how others might be feeling can be a tricky task, but book reading offers many opportunities for practice. Ask your child how a character might be feeling - reference the illustrations! Does this character look happy, sad, angry? How would you feel if your snowman friends melted away? I know I would feel sad if that happened!
Keep in Mind…
You don’t have to worry about reading the story as it is presented in a book. If you pick a book with lots of pictures, you and your child can work together to create a story about the pictures. Narrative retelling is another skill that is important, both socially and academically. Creating a story with your child gives them the opportunity to practice skills like sequencing events (i.e. “First… then…”) and using vocabulary!
So grab a good book and have some fun while you work on your child’s language skills!
Some resources for parents:
Audible, Amazon’s platform for audio books, is offering free accounts while schools are closed - check it out and grab some audiobooks to listen to with your kids!
Storyline online is a free website that features people, often celebrities or the authors of the books, reading books aloud - check it out!
Libby - the Ontario Public Libraries have a free app that can be used by anyone with a library card. You can get free ebooks with your library card!
Literacy Lunch - Bright Spot Therapy Services is hosting Literacy Lunch everyday this week at 12:00 PM. Ms. Rachel will be discussing various topics related to literacy!
Bright Spot Therapy Services Spring Readathon - Don’t forget to participate for chances to win Art & Soul gift cards! Details can be found here
Written by Keely Hutton, M.S.Ed., Reg. CASLPO