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A Recipe for Speaking Success!

By I CAN Communication Advisor, Amanda Baxter

Now that the seasons have changed and we’re coming into to winter we might be less likely to spend time outside with our children (except for those of us shivering at the play parks). Now is a good time to start on some indoor activities that are fun and can help your child’s language skills.

If you’re celebrating this December it will be a busy time with lots to do. Getting your children involved with some of these things  can keep them entertained and give them an opportunity to learn new skills and words in the process (NB you might not want to get them involved in making your 3 tier showstopper Christmas cake).

Why not try out our recipe….

Step 1: Choosing what you’re going to make can get your children thinking and sharing ideas. If they need a bit of help they can point to pictures in recipe books, magazines or on the internet. If they find it difficult to tell you what they want to do, pictures can really help them to share their ideas.

Step 2: Plan what you’re going to make and what you need. If you’re going to do some cooking, this might involve a trip to your local shop to get your ingredients, or paper and glue to make your your next space robot!

Step 3: Talk about the order you need to do things (if there is one!) – this can help older children put their ideas in order so that they have a sequence. Using words like ‘first’, ‘next’ and ‘last’ is a really useful skill for telling stories. And for something like making biscuits, you do need to follow the recipe so that you aren’t eating burned crumbs!

Step 4: Feeling, smelling and tasting the ingredients going in can help children to learn new words. They are much more likely to remember them if they’ve had a strong experience of them. This may mean that things get messy! This can also  be a time of year for new experiences – think of the first time you saw snow; you can associate all the words that go with snow (cold, wet, icy, slippy, sledging and so on) if you’ve been out in the snow

How to help: Why not say the words for them as they are looking at the ingredients or carrying out the actions? This means they are hearing the words as they do the action or feel the object and this helps them build up the idea of the words associated with them.

Step 5:  Start putting all your ingredients together. The actions involved in making things aren’t always everyday actions (e.g. stirring, pouring, mixing, weighing) so make sure you say the word for the action to them a lot. As your child is getting a chance to actually do the actions with you, it increases the likelihood of them remembering the word associated with it. They also get to do them over and over again, which gives them a chance to remember and use the word.

Step 6: Decorating and putting the finishing touches on things is a good way of helping your child to make choices – for example “What colour icing shall we put on top?” or “Shall we use chocolate or silver balls?” Giving your child the opportunity to make choices helps them to be a part of the activity and have their say. They can let you know by pointing at what they want, and you can say the words for them (“You want the chocolate icing? Good choice!”).

Step 7: Have fun together – no matter how your biscuits or paper chains come out! Think of all the effort and steps that went into making them. If anyone has clean fingers you can take photos as you go and of the end product. Then you can talk about what you did and the fun you had even when you’ve eaten the last mince pie!

For more ideas, go to the Talking Point website  www.talkingpoint.org.uk or visit www.ican.org.uk/help to find out how to book a call back with one of our qualified speech & language therapists.