What Will You Talk About this Summer? 4 Ways to Keep Kids Communicating.

School is out (for many of us) and Summer is almost here. When I was young, our refrain at this time of year was always, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.”

But what about talking? Will your students lose ground over the summer without continuing intervention? The students I work with are non-speaking and are learning to use AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication).

These students require a minimum of 200 opportunities each day to learn to use their AAC systems. And just because school is out doesn’t mean they have no need to communicate over the break.

So, what can you do to keep them “talking” all summer long? Here are some ideas that I hope will help.

1. In the morning, ask your child what (s)he wants to do that day.

2. At the end of the day, re-cap what your child has done. Help them to answer the Who, What did, When, and Where questions that will give the listener (any family member or friend will do) enough information to get the idea. Encourage comments, particularly; such as, “I had fun” or “I didn’t like it” or “I want to do that again.” Remember, syntactically correct sentences aren’t necessary if that is not where your child is. We work our way up from single words to brief phrases to simple sentences and beyond. Take it 1 step at a time.

3. Read a book. There are so many communication/language building opportunities while sharing a book. Talk about the characters and settings and describe them. See if your child can use descriptive words, and can compare/contrast 2 characters or places. Ask questions about the story. Begin with questions that can be answered by looking at the illustrations, then move to questions whose answers need to be found by listening then by inferring or predicting.

4. Play. Have fun with the toys and activities that you child enjoys. This is the perfect opportunity to use action words and adjectives (bubbles: blow, pop, catch, big, little; cars and trains: drive, crash, move, fast, slow). Afterwards, talk about how “that was fun.” Encourage your child to tell you when they want “something different,” when they want “more,” and when they are “all done.”

Summer fun can be a great time to keep working on those communication skills. Have fun! And………..keep on talking.

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About Susan Berkowitz
I have been a SLP for more than 35 years, working predominantly with nonverbal children, children with autism, but also with children with significant language disabilities. I own a private practice where I primarily perform AAC evaluations and do consultation, staff training, workshops. I also own Language Learning Apps, LLC, and sell curriculum materials on TPT