We are half way through the summer holidays here in the UK. I love the summer break and we have actually had some great weather this year. Just yesterday, my son and I went pond dipping and had a lovely walk (with an ice-cream) along the canal. Even if you haven’t been on a big holiday this summer I’m sure you have all had great days with your children.
But soon it will be time to think about digging out the school uniform and labelling all the new bits. One activity that your child is very likely to do in the first week of term is to talk/ write about what they did over the holidays. I know I always ask my clients when sessions start up. There are many skills involved in this task – remembering what you did, sequencing the events, finding the correct words, constructing a sentence… This is tricky stuff.
So how can we help our children with this:-
Pictures: If you child isn’t yet verbal or has fewer words, pictures are useful as it allows an adult at school to start a conversation with your child. You could practise at home first and try and help them to remember some specific words about the picture or point to the pictures.
If your child has more words a picture can also be really useful as it can help them remember. You could print out 2 or 3 and have them in the correct order to help your child remember the sequence of what happened e.g. One day we went to the park and I played on the slide. Another day we went to visit grandma and I had a huge ice-cream! Then we stayed at home and played a card game. I won!
Rehearsal: We often say this, but practise, practise, practise! Encourage your child to think of their favourite activity. You may need to remind them of all the things you have done. Now we all have phones with cameras, you could sit together and go through the photos. Then when your child has picked their favourite 1 or 2 activities, discuss them and see if you can think of some good describing words. Practise this a few days before school starts and then go over it again the night before or in the morning on the way to school.
Objects: I know my son ends up with a collection of ‘things’ when we go out. Whether it is cuddly toys or a special stick or stone, he normally has something. If it’s OK with school, your child could bring in one of these special things to help them remember a day or activity.
Senses: Another way to help your child think about and remember activities is to encourage them to use their five senses. For example if you had been to the beach you could ask questions such as – What did you see at the beach? What did the water smell like? What was that funny noise? Did we taste anything new? What did the seaweed feel like?
These questions are more specific than asking ‘what did we do?’ and will encourage your child to think about what happened and hopefully help them give more specific details.
Adjectives: We talk about adjectives quite a lot! They are describing words e.g. smooth, red, noisy etc. As with the above example you can ask more specific questions with adjectives to help your child remember. So if you have fed the ducks at the pond, rather than asking ‘what birds did we see?’ you could ask ‘what did we see that was big and white?’ (swan). Instead of ‘what did we bring home?’, you could ask ‘what did we find that was smooth?’ (stone).
We do hope you all enjoy the rest of the holidays. Have fun practising and see if these ideas help your child remember!