It is exciting to have students back in the classroom with us for our oral language session. We all agree face to face contact is so much more powerful for building language than through a screen.
Within oral language sessions, classes are working on a range of things. Some classes are working on learning new vocabulary to describe tastes and textures, and around topics such as food, transport and community workers. Others are working on developing sentence structure and supporting story-telling skills.
You can help to support the building of vocabulary by getting your child involved in everyday activities and naming and talking about the objects you are using. For example, have your child help you with the washing. Get them to find different articles of clothing e.g. tops, skirts, shorts and socks as you put them in the washing machine, hang them on the line or fold them. You can talk about the parts they have or describe their colours and patterns. You could sort them according to size, colour texture or function.
You could also have your child help out in the kitchen. Perhaps you could make sandwiches, pizzas or a cake together. You can name the ingredients and talk about how they look, feel and taste or what parts they have (i.e. seeds, stem, skin, core, crust, crumbs). Once your child is familiar with the names of ingredients you could support them to use the labels by having them instruct you in making something.
You can support your child’s sentence structure which will also support story-telling by “tuning in” to how your child is expressing their ideas. If their message is unclear ask if they can help you understand what they are saying by telling you more or saying it in a different way. If this is too challenging for your child, then ask very specific questions to help them clarify their ideas. For example, if your child says something like “Put it on there.” You could say something like “I am a bit confused can you help me out? What do you want me to put on? Where do you want me to put it?”. Then say all the information back to your child. For example, “Oh now I know you want me to put the butter on the bread. You are using great words and that helps me understand.”
In a busy world the temptation can be to complete daily tasks as quickly as possible, so we can move onto the next thing. This can make it hard for a child with a language difficulty to engage and learn. Taking time to slow down, and involve your child in these activities, even if it is only sometimes, can be a positive and rewarding experience for everyone.