29 Mar Finding opportunities for language learning in every day: A busy family’s guide
Family life is busy and chaotic! School, work, social and sporting commitments can be quite a juggling act.
Parents often feel responsible for making sure that everything gets done and sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to fit it all in. The good news is that you can easily fit in language learning opportunities with your other routines. This makes it easier to ensure your child continues to develop their language skills, and you still get all of your daily jobs done. Win-win!
Getting ready for school
This is a great time to practice following routine directions, such as “put your lunch box in your bag”, “get your library book” and “put your shoes and socks on”. When your child gets more familiar with these instructions, you can use this as an opportunity to learn about sequence concepts, “before” and “after”. Ask your child questions such as “what do you need to do after you finish breakfast?”
In the car
Use this time to comment on what you can see happening around you. Play “I-spy” and have your children guess what you are talking about. Whilst traditional “I-spy” is a great way to practice listening for the sound at the beginning of words, you can mix this game up to learn about finding items based on a description. For example, “I spy something red with four wheels”, or “I spy something that is barking”.
Asking your children about what they have done during the day is a great way to practice retelling events and sequencing. Asking your child questions using the terms “before” and “after”, or “first” and “last” helps them to understand the sequence of events. For example, ask your child “what was the first thing you played at lunch?” or “what did you do after recess?”
You can also use this time to practice answering a range of “wh” questions. When your child tells you something they have done that day, such as “we played cricket”, you could help them to expand this information by asking “where did you play?” or “who did you play with?”
This is a great time to practice learning about different describing words and concepts, such as “wet” and “dry”, “big” and “small” or “hot” and “cold”. Ask your child to describe the items you are preparing (e.g. the lettuce might be ‘wet’ after you wash it, the garlic bread might be ‘hot’ when it comes out of the oven, the potato might be ‘big’)
Getting older children involved in food preparation (where appropriate) can give them hands-on experience with these concepts, as well as providing them with valuable life skills. Try making up a photo recipe book/diary with your family so that you have a visual representation of how to make all your favourite recipes.
Tip: See our blog post ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ for more ideas and free visuals to help younger children engage in this important family time.
Bath time is great for learning body parts, actions (such as “splash” and “wash”) and to learn the difference between “wet” and “dry”. For younger children, try making up a bubble bath and having them find a named body part before putting a handful of bubbles on it (e.g. “find your foot”, before you put bubbles on their foot).
Unwinding before bed has traditionally been an ideal time for families to fit in storybook reading. Reading stories helps your child develop important literacy skills and is a great way to practice comprehension. With younger children using picture books, it is important to follow their interests on the page, rather than reading every word on the page.
Tip: Need ideas for what to read? Small TALK publishes a ‘book of the week’. Follow us on Facebook to find out our favourite book each week, and what language skills we are using it for!
Want to learn more about building your child’s language skills? Check out our blog post How to accelerate your child’s language development (0-5 years of age): Our guide to Early Language Stimulation