Language and communication skills are important building blocks for young children. Not only do they ensure their ideas and thoughts can be understood by others, but they allow children to build self-confidence as they share and make friends.
While some children are naturally outgoing and communicative, others need practice to develop these skills. The following games will help children develop their language and communication skills through fun, engaging, and interactive play.
1. Identify the object. Pick an object and take turns offering descriptions and clues to the other person. “It is long and skinny. We use it to sweep the floor” could be clues for a broom. “It’s brown and sweet. Your favorite kind is Hershey’s” could be used to describe chocolate.
2. Presentation. Just like adults, many children fear being on stage speaking as the center of attention. To get over this fear, have your child create and perform a presentation. It can be as simple as describing a recent happy memory, singing a song, reciting a poem, or more. If your child feels comfortable presenting to your family, find out if they can present to a small group at your local church, senior center, or retirement home.
3. What’s going on in the picture? This no-cost game can be played virtually anywhere. Ask children to describe in detail what they see in a picture illustration. Focus on details such as the scenery, colors, shapes, people, and more; for older children, have them create stories based solely on what they can see in the picture.
4. Emotional charades. Emotional charades is a fun and easy game that can be played in large groups or with as few as two people. Make cards with different emotions written on them such as sleepy, happy, excited, sad, or more; players can take turns drawing a card and acting out the correct emotion.
5. Pretend play. Actively using their imaginations is a great way to help children develop language and communication skills. Pretend play, such as playing house or using a play kitchen, is a great way to learn new words. Likewise, pretend play is an important part of learning how to play and cooperate with peers and classmates.
Teacher appreciation week is May 1-5, and it gives parents the opportunity to thank their children’s teachers for the hard work and dedication they show all year long. This year, show your thanks and appreciation with these simple and creative ideas.
1. Send in breakfast. Sending breakfast to school one morning is an easy way to say “thanks.” Kids will love the opportunity to pick out muffins, bagels, or doughnuts for their favorite teachers. To make an even bigger impact, get a group of parents to chip in to buy breakfast for the whole staff!
2. Collect their favorite things. Create a personalized gift basket for your child’s teacher by curating their favorite things for them! Include a favorite soda or drink, salty snack, sweet treat, or even a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
3. Restock their classroom supply closet. By the end of the year, many teachers are running low on staples such as crayons, glue, pencils, and even copy paper. For the extra creative parent, create atiered “cake” using layers of supplies; this beautiful and practical gift is sure to wow your child’s teacher!
4. Take over their duties. Many teachers have recess, lunch room, or before and after school duties in addition to their regular school day. Find out if you can take over a few of their additional duties one day. Teachers will appreciate the extra time to themselves! Likewise, volunteering time in the classroom is another way to provide greatly appreciated support to most teachers – as well as spend additional time with your child.
5. Hand write a note. While gift cards and candy jars are always appreciated, handwritten letters and cards stand the test of time. Thank you notes don’t just have to be written by children; take a few minutes to sit down and write a short letter to your child’s teacher, expressing your appreciation at how much your child has learned and grown.
With summer vacation just around the corner, most high school students are already looking forward to the long weeks free from homework, tests, projects, reports, and papers. Although it can be tempting to veg out and turn off for the summer, high schoolers should try to use the time to their advantage. Whether it is a part-time job, volunteer experience, or an internship, there are a number of ways high school students can have a productive summer!
Deciding how to spend the summer
With a few months to go before school ends, now is the perfect time to start thinking about what to do over the summer. Before making plans, students should ask themselves two questions:
1. What are my future goals? Think about long term, big picture goals: do you want to go to college? What will your major be? What future career do you want to have? Once you’ve started answering those questions, consider what steps you can take now to achieve those goals. That might be a part time job to save money for tuition, an internship to gain experience, or volunteering to build your resume.
2. What do I enjoy doing? While summer vacation may give you time to sign up for plenty of resume boosting activities, you also don’t want to be miserable. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing most and try to find activities that support your interests. If you’re the queen of Instagram, consider taking a photography class to learn more about color and composition. Sports fans might be interested in volunteering as a youth coach.
Five great options for summer
The following are five great ways that high school students can spend their summers.
1. Part-time job: Having a job gives teenagers the opportunity to earn their own money and add to their resumes. Common jobs that are readily available for high school students include lifeguards, cashiers, tutors, baby sitters, camp counselors, and more. Many companies start hiring in the spring for summer positions, so start looking for available jobs sooner rather than later.
2. Short-term internship: While the vast majority of internships are unpaid, they are a great way to get real-world experience in your future career field. If you’re interested in being a doctor, see if you can shadow or intern at a local hospital or clinic over the summer. Internships can also be a good way to show colleges you are committed to your area of study – or to discover it might not be for you before you get to campus.
3. Volunteering: While volunteering may seem similar to internships, they’re often easier to get and offer more flexible schedules. A huge number of groups look for volunteers, especially over the summer. Animal shelters, senior centers, museums, schools, and more are just a few ideas for volunteer opportunities.
4. Summer Sessions: School over the summer can be an excellent way to help improve your GPA and boost your learning. RBEF offers summer sessions, and you can sign up here: http://rbef.org/summer-sessions-2017/
5. Summer camp: This traditional – and fun! – way to spend summer vacation has never gone out of style. Whether it is during the day or away from home, there are camps dedicated to sports, academics, the arts, and more.
Reading a book as a family can often serve as a conversation starter when it comes to tough or hard to address topics. The following children’s books can serve as family conversation starters!
• Moving: Boomer’s Big Day by Constance W. McGeorge
Moving to a new house can be a difficult transition for many children. Told through the eyes of a dog, Boomer of Boomer’s Big Day is not sure what to think when all his favorite toys are packed and the movers show up. However, when he arrives at his new house, he finds all his things are still there – as well as lots of new friends. Other books about moving include Berenstain Bears Moving Day by Stan Berenstain, Who Will Be My Friends? by Syd Hoff, I’m Not Moving Mama! by Nancy White Carlstrom, and A Tiger Called Thomas by Charlotte Zolotow.
• First day of school: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
The first day of school can be nerve-wracking for students of all ages – particularly young children in their first few years of school. In The Kissing Hand, Chester Racoon is nervous about starting school, so his mother teaches him the family story of the kissing hand to reassure and comfort him. There are plenty of books for dealing with the first day of school including I Am Absolutely Too Small For School by Lauren Child, A Pirate’s Guide To First Grade by James Preller, First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, and The Teacher From The Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler.
• Bullying: The Bully Blockers Club by Teresa Bateman
While most schools have become more proactive about identifying and intervening in bullying, the presence of a bully can put a damper on your child’s school year and learning experience. In The Bully Blockers Club, Lotty is excited to go back to school – until Grant Grizzly begins bullying her. When she notices other kids being bullied too, Lotty and her classmates form a group called the Bully Blockers Club. Other books that deal with bullying are Bye Bye Bully by J.S. Jackson, Bystander Power: Now with Anti-Bullying Action by Elizabeth Verdick and LMSW, Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein, Desmond And The Very Mean Word by Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, and Bully 101 by Doretta Groenendyk.
• Differences and diversity: The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi.
When children so desperately want to fit in with their peers, accepting their differences can be difficult. In The Name Jar, an immigrant named Unhei learns to navigate her new school and accept her Korean name. Other books about accepting our differences are Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, Each Kindness by Jaqueline Woodson, and Wonder by R. J. Palacio.
Looking for more ways to start conversations as a family? Try games like Table Topics, which provide fun and interesting questions to spark conversations around the dinner table!