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Holiday Language Handout: Language Development over the Holidays

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The holidays are a great time to help your child develop expansive language skills because there are many routines and traditions that take place this time of year, not to mention just a lot of talking! :)  As you’re preparing for the holiday season, take some time to be intentional with your child to help their language development! Below are a few suggestions on providing language examples for your child!

Social Skills: The holidays provide an excellent opportunity to practice social skills because many children will see family members and friends that they do not see on a regular basis.  Some areas to pay special attention to are as follows:

  • Greeting: Work with your child on providing appropriate greetings.  Encourage them to say hello, shake hands, give hugs/high fives, or whatever is appropriate for your family.

  • Answering Questions: When a family member asks your child a question, encourage them to answer it.  You might even need to provide your child with the answer to the question for them to imitate.  (example: "what are you learning in school?” Provide your child with the answer "We have been working on addition/letters/reading, etc.” and allow them to imitate your answer).  You can also review common questions in the car on the way to the event so that your child is prepared with answers to their questions before they’re asked.  

  • Asking Questions: Encourage your child to interact with other adults and children in your family.  Asking questions like, "How are you?” and "Can I play the game with you?” are good skills for your child to work on.  Resist the temptation to jump in and talk for your child; instead, gathering.

  • Polite Social Norms:  If your child receives a gift, encourage them to tell the giver "thank you.”  Have them practice "please” at the table when asking for more food.

Vocabulary: There are many words that we use around the holidays that we don’t necessarily use at other times of the year.  Here are some ideas on how to incorporate this seasonal vocabulary.

  • Cooking/Baking:  Getting your children involved in the kitchen is one of the best ways to encourage language development.  Talk about the sequence of steps to bake cookies (example: first, add ingredients; next, mix the dough; then, roll it out; fourth, cut the cookies; then, bake the cookies, etc.).  Talk about anything that you or your children are doing.  Expand on the sentences that they use (example: Child: "cut cookie.”  Parent: "Yes, you are cutting the star cookie.”)

  • Decorating: Involve your children when decorating the tree, hanging lights, etc.  Talk to them about the items they are using (e.g., ornaments, star, lights, tinsel, etc.).  Use descriptive words to elaborate on things that you say.

  • Books/Storytelling: Books are a great way to introduce new vocabulary, and during the holiday season, there are so many stories to be told! Check out your local library to find books about Christmas, snowmen, baking, etc. that use new vocabulary and all sorts of language structure.  Books are also a great gift!

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