The good weather that comes with summer makes it much easier to get kids out of the house and engage them in activities you can’t do all year round. This provides a huge opportunity for children in Speech-Language Therapy to open their world up, and become actively engaged in new and exciting pastimes. This can be hugely beneficial to their vocabulary and interaction, so we have put together some of the best summer activities for kids in SLT.
Zoos and aquariums are a fantastic place to start for a number of reasons. Firstly, every child will have animals at the zoo that they are excited to see, which gets them engaged from the outset. Secondly, the premise is quite simple to understand. Almost all the words at the zoo will focus on animals, presenting a clearly defined category for the kids. And although it’s a public place, the zoo offers lots of opportunities for privacy and freedom to move away if the child becomes upset. Finally, the stark differences between animals are easy to see, and will help children learn that certain words go with certain objects.
In a similar vein, museums can be a great way to engage kids, depending on what their interests are. While not all kids would enjoy wandering around a museum, looking at dusty old relics, finding the right exhibit could prove very useful. Kids who like animals could go to the Natural History Museum, while those who like Ancient Egypt could go to the National Museum of Ireland. The Titanic Museum in Belfast has a very broad appeal, and contains lots of exciting and interactive exhibits on a subject most would be familiar with, making it a good choice for kids to identify what they see.
Whether you take them to the Giant’s Causeway or the forest just 20 minutes down the road, outdoor day-trips are a very appealing option for kids. The privacy and freedom that comes with it, such as being allowed to run around and shout without getting in trouble, means many kids will be deeply interested in going. It again provides a clear category of vocabulary for them to follow, and provides plenty of opportunities to give clear instructions with commonplace words, such as ‘Pick up that stick’, ‘Throw those leaves’, and ‘Look at that bird’s nest’.
These options also hit the most important points of SLT, getting children excited about all the nice food they get to have, while providing a very identifiable set of vocab. These activities can also easily be expanded to accommodate any size, allowing you to keep it to a small number of family and friends, or attend a large public barbecue, depending on what better suits your child. There are also usually multiple activities at these events, from cooking with the chef, to games with other kids, or sitting down and eating with the family, offering the child multiple choices of what to do, where to go, and who to engage with.
For children who learn better in a more private setting, gardening is a fantastic choice. It can be done every day, or as often as they like. It offers, but does not require, plenty of opportunities for talking and engaging. It is an enjoyable, calm, and rewarding activity. It also gives shy children a reason to go out to public places such as a garden centre, where the surroundings will be familiar and exciting because of their new hobby, helping them to transition and become used to large, public spaces.
The type of activities you engage your child in will vary depending on the child, but these five options offer plenty of freedom for the parent and child to come up with an itinerary that is exciting, educational, and fun, but not intimidating.