Speech Therapy and Summer Fun!
Updated: May 19
The glorious summer months bring much needed fun and relaxation for children. I am a big proponent of play time (or downtime, depending on the age!) for children. Unstructured play--- a time for kids to get together with nothing planned and no particular goals in mind, except having fun!---- gets my vote. The school year can be grueling to begin with and then add after-school sports and activity clubs to the mix and the children end up having busier schedules than grown-ups.
That said, the break from school can cause children to experience a little regression in their skills, especially, speech and language skills they have gained during the year. This is referred to as summer learning loss and is a very real thing that's been researched and documented. If the child receives additional supports during the school year (speech, special education, OT, other therapy services), they may be at even higher risk for regression if summer supports aren't in place.
The good news is that you don’t have to plan perfect activities to get enriching practice for your child. It is true that one of the most difficult parts of therapy is ‘carryover’ or ‘generalization’ of the newly learned speech sounds into spontaneous conversation and daily life. It can feel overwhelming and intimidating to do “carryover therapy” on your own in the summer. However, Speech and language skills acquired in school can be generalized in your home environment over the summer in free, easy and very natural everyday situations.
Here are a few ways to keep the children connected to their therapy goals while still having their summer fun:
Car rides and Road trips – These are one of my favorites! “I spy “lends itself very well to any speech and language therapy goal.
Scavenger Hunts can be done anywhere! Neighborhood, playground, Grocery store, Amusement parks, Beaches. Look for items in certain categories, or items starting with certain letter sounds.
Board games like Headbandz and Guess Who target a variety of skills like vocabulary, word order, asking questions, and yes/no responses and also social/emotional/pragmatic skills like turn taking, problem solving, conflict resolution and overall executive functioning.
Cooking and Baking- Besides being fun, motivating and an essential life skill, cooking together is chock full of speech and language opportunities. Following directions, vocabulary, action words, narrative language skills, recall, actions, sequencing, math, fine motor skills, social skills, pragmatic language goals- the list is endless.
Journaling for older kids- Writing in journals to record experiences, express opinions, explain reactions, and describe emotions and intentions have a multitude of benefits. Creating a journal entry helps a child reflect and synthesize new information. Journaling encourages a child to synthesize language structure, vocabulary, pragmatic ability, and emotion knowledge in order to document and share their experience. Some children will need question prompts to get started. Some fun stationery and a writing nook or a shady spot under a tree is all one needs!
Sensory-Motor activities- Movement facilitates speech. ASHA Wire suggests, “Pair speech sounds with movements, exercises or yoga poses. If you’re working on /m/, have your students march in place. If you’re working on the /ch/ sound, the child’s pose is wonderful to complete after saying the target word a specified number of times. Tape articulation cards on the wall just above a child’s reach. Ask your student to jump and tap the target card."
Screen time: Yes, I included this! You might try to enforce a strict digital diet but lots of technology use and screen time are quite likely over the 2 months of summer. Teach passive versus active screen time. Passive screen time takes place when a child watches a show alone and isn’t encouraged to respond to the characters in any way. Active screen time includes using a device to make a video call or watching a show—or playing games—with a parent or caregiver who communicates with the child. Active screen time generates some two-way communication, encourages language use, and involves family members and friends.
Last but not the least, and actually my favorite on the list- Library Summer programs! They are amazing for children of all ages. Reading is one of the BEST ways to build those language skills So go to your local library and ask about the summer reading program for kids. They usually involve great reading lists, raffles, prizes and lots of literacy fun.
If you are looking to continue with speech therapy sessions this summer, help is available.
Resonate Therapy Solutions is offering summer speech therapy sessions (for children with a current plan of care or IEP) in the comfort of home or at your child’s daycare or summer camp or via teletherapy. This is a flexible program designed to fit into your already busy schedule. Got a vacation planned? Swim lessons? No problem. You pick the days. If we’ve got an opening, then you’ve got a session! OR you can choose a weekly, standing appointment for the summer. Contact us at (617) 372-3051 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.