Recently, more and more parents have asked me about the apps I recommend for home. While I use apps with students and find many of them helpful, I don’t really recommend them for home. I have let parents know the apps I have found to be successful, but in general, my recommendations for carryover of speech, language and communication skills are not apps.
What do I recommend for home carryover? Games, games and more games. Games target so many of the skills our children are working on: following directions, giving information, providing explanations, concept development, social interactions, turn taking, problem solving, opportunities for articulation carryover and the list goes on…Depending on the game, math skills and reading fluency could also be targeted. It’s also good quality time for the family. We have many game nights in my family. Ages range from my youngest niece, who is 9 to my mother who probably doesn’t appreciate her age being revealed. We also bring a new board game to almost every holiday. In the summer time we have “game nights” by my brother’s pool. The teenaged boys actually request these nights with the family. Here is a great list of games by the artful parent. I also strongly recommend cranium games. Some favorites in my family also include Last Word which can be scaffolded for different playing levels, Catch Phrase and What’s Yours Like? There are so many games that are great for carryover practice, it would be impossible to list them all. You probably have some in your closet right now. Go take a look.
I know not everyone loves to sit and play board games, but not all games need to be sedentary. This Easter we launched our first Easter Games (I took first in yo-yo and jump rope, thank you very much). The games we played required establishing teams, negotiating events, keeping score and demonstrating sportsmanship (more on that later). We only had one episode of tears. You can find a list of some old fashioned games for outdoors here. It should finally be nice out this weekend so get out there and play!
Now, a little about sportsmanship. I think (my opinion), that children should participate in games to learn how to win and lose gracefully. In this day and age when everyone “earns” a trophy for participating, it seems that children have a harder time losing. I don’t have any data on hand to back that up, but if I start to track it I’m sure I could. Many children ask me if a game is a winning game or losing game, because they don’t want to play a game that they might lose. While I understand that, being a little competitive myself, I think it’s important for children to learn how to lose. How is that related to speech and language? Social communication. We have observed many a student have a very difficult time losing, to the point that they require adult assistance to pull themselves back together. This does not put one in the best light with peers, socially. The same holds true for the student who is not the most gracious winner. No one loves a ‘sore winner”. In the speech room, you are only allowed to announce “I won!” two times and the winner usually gets to clean up, all in good fun.
I’m not suggesting that games are the only way to carryover speech, language and communication but I do find them to be a powerful and motivating context to practice some of the skills we are targeting. Try setting some time aside this weekend for some family game time if you aren’t already. I think you’ll be glad you did.