Communication Expansion Using the Repetition of Holidays in a Neutral Way

To expand any skill, we all need practice.  This same repetition is vital for your child to gain speech and language skills.  A good way to assure repetition and frequent practice which is necessary is by using your environment to help target these skills.  Consider the many opportunities possible in targeting everyday words related to various common holidays as they approach, while still maintaining your family’s beliefs.


That is, in supporting your child’s communication development, consider incorporating vocabulary and concepts related to the everyday objects found in your community’s holidays.  For example, in December, some people celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, however there are everyday objects in these holidays which can be found in daily life, such as candles and stars.  Consider using these everyday objects to expand your child’s communication skills during this time given the frequency of times s/he may encounter them during the month.  A similar example is in October when some people celebrate Halloween while others do not.  Consider the everyday objects seen frequently on t.v., in books displayed at the library, in your neighborhood, and in your local stores such as pumpkins and spiders to provide activities to expand your child’s targeted communication skills.  Around April, many bunnies and eggs appear in the community due to Easter.  Consider words related to eggs (yolk, shell, crack/break, chicken) or bunnies (animals, farm, hop, etc.), because there may be lots of opportunities while shopping, walking in the neighborhood, browsing the library, etc. to reinforce these words.  Perhaps there is another holiday or well-established tradition/event in your community, which you don’t participate.  Is there something from it which you as a parent would feel comfortable incorporating into an everyday context (to hold true to your beliefs) in order to have your child benefit from the natural repetition that happens due to its common occurrences?


Consider for a moment, not just the new vocabulary words which your child can learn, but also concepts and the multitude of other communication skills which can be targeted by using the repetition in naturally occurring contexts.  Conversational skills such as maintaining a topic can be targeted.  Communicating more words and/or producing longer phrases and sentences to talk about the objects can be reinforced.  Concepts such as “hard” or “white” for egg shells, “fluffy” for a bunny’s tail, “tall” or “green” for a tree, “hot” for the flame on the candle, “round” or “orange” for a pumpkin, and “big” or “small” for candle size can be targeted to help your child understand/use these high frequency descriptive words with everyday objects occurring often during specific holidays.  Articulation skills can be targeted, such as targeting two-syllable words (“candle”), final consonants (“pumpkin“), or initial /f/ (“farm” for pumpkins or bunnies).  Following directions in art (ex:  “Put two spiders on the web”) or during book time (ex:  “Find the big bunny” while reading a story about bunnies in April).  Sequencing skills can be targeted, such as following and describing the sequence of steps involved cooking an egg.  Reinforce a variety of communication skills (by producing and understanding interactive language) by playing games in which you and your child take turns finding and naming objects in words, phrases, or sentences or describing the objects based on a color associated with holidays (ex:  find objects that are black in October, orange in November, green or red in December, etc.).  You can play this at home with everyday objects and in the community to reinforce the color and other communication skills.  You’ll have lots of examples!


This is intended to provide suggestions and provide information on the importance of and increasing the frequency of repetition to help your child expand his/her communication skills.  As always, refer to your child’s Speech-Language Pathologist for specific suggestions relevant to your child’s needs.  


Disclaimer:  This is not intended to promote or negate any religious or cultural beliefs.  This is intended to provide examples of how to find commonly occurring themes throughout your community to make repetition likely in a neutral context as deemed by you and your family.

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