Here comes the Sun, Fun and Summer Connection
By Maureen Penko
We are noticing how much happier our mood is as the sun peeks from the endless cloud and gives us warmer temperatures. The trees and grass are greener and we hear the birds chirping in the yard. As the restrictions lift we begin to appreciate what we have missed over the past two summers. Meeting other families for a picnic or a play visit is an experience some of our children who are turning 18 months will experience for the first time and our older children will celebrate as they meet up with their friends and their groups. The chance to play frisbee, ride the scooter or go swimming together signals that we can with caution have these group experiences. Connections with one another, nature, and sharing experiences are joyous moments.
As parents we know how much attending events gives us the vibrant language, the opportunity to share vocabulary, and talk with each other. Sights, sounds, smells and touch are all the senses that are activated in the brain and are stored for us to recall. All of these sensory experiences are connections for us and lay the foundation for memories to talk about after we have had the experience. The group activities keep us engaged with each other and is especially memorable when it is a unique experience. So, letís talk about building connections through experience and language. I am going to describe a unique experience that was exhilarating to watch.
A group of adults and children were taking advantage of a windy day at the end of May and the sky was filled with colours and creations of what looked like graceful birds swooping and soaring. Yes, thatís right they were kite flying. Together the adult showed the child step by step how to hold the kite, how to wait to catch the wind, letting the reel go so the wind could grab the kite, all the while running to keep up with the kite. The vocabulary used was repetitious, spoken with animation and predictable along with the actions.
This experience allowed the children to understand the process, learn what to do, follow the adults step by step, hear the vocabulary and repeat the process with success. When it did not work the child and adult tried again. These principles are what works when we are developing our children speech sounds, vocabulary, and language skills. The idea of being engaged in an activity is an important one regardless of a childís age in the learning process. Observation is the first step, in the process and joint attention as it is referred to is important for copying skills to begin. It makes the learning dynamic and fun. Taking photos, or even a video which is so easy to do these days of the event allows the families to enjoy the event again and recall using the same words or discussing the shared experience with the older child.
Words and songs combined with the actions make it rich. Of course, I started to sing the song Lets go fly a kite.
As I recalled the lyrics there are rhymes (Strings and wings), words to learn (holding, tight, soaring, highest, atmosphere, breeze, speech sounds to reinforce (s, t, z,r) and expressions (oh oh oh!). Here is a sample of the Lyrics Sung by Dick Van Dyck in Mary Poppins.
With tuppence ( maybe now toonies) for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You're a bird in a flight
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite
Oh, oh, oh!
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!
When you send it flyin' up there
All at once you're lighter than air
You can dance on the breeze
Take this same idea of experience and connection and apply it to other activities such as bubble blowing, making windchimes, bird watching, looking for tadpoles, planting, treasure hunts, painting rocks and many other summer programs.
You can also look up what Outdoor day summer programs offer as well as family activities at places such as Fort Whyte Alive or The Childrenís Museum and the Assiniboine Park. Our children learn so much, by watching, doing and speaking in the moment. Keep a photo library, video or scrapbook to recall the time. This sharable is one your children can take to school to connect with the teacher. All these experiences promote development and language for all ages.
As always if you feel that your childís speech and language skills are lagging donít hesitate to reach out and seek professional help.
Enjoy your summer sun, fun and connections.
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