Holiday Tips for Parents - Telethon Speech & Hearing

Holiday Tips for Parents

Developing your child’s listening and spoken language over the holiday season

The holiday season is a special time of year for family and friends.  It is also a time where you will hopefully be able to slow down and spend some quality time with your little ones.  Many families do worry about the break in services, however, this special family time offers so many wonderful opportunities to develop your child’s listening and spoken language.

Another concern families have during the holiday season is supporting their child in more challenging listening environments posed by large family and friend gathers. Here are a few tips to help with these concerns over the holiday period. One of the best ways to teach new language is through repetition.

You can create multiple opportunities for your child to learn language by:

  • Reading story books that include seasonal-related themes like Christmas, summer or going to the beach is a great way to introduce vocabulary related these events hand help your child prepare for these experiences. Enjoy reading to them, and then talk about the stories together. Are you planning on doing something similar or have you done something similar in the past? (e.g. Santa brought the child a doll. I wonder what he might bring you? Spot went to the beach. We are going to the beach tomorrow. What should we take?)
  • Create an experience book with your child. As you’re going through the holiday
    Christmas activities can be a fun way of reinforcing learnt vocabulary.

    season talk with your child about what activities will come up. Then, when you’re doing these activities, talk about what you’re doing and take photos of your child. After the activities you might like to print these photos and paste them into a scrapbook or go through the photos on your device. Talk about the pictures and their experience reinforcing vocabulary learnt.

  • Play together. Pretend to “host” a Christmas party. Practice greeting guests and offering snack (e.g. Would you like some juice?), this is a great way to practice those tricky question forms. You can also bring listening into this activity. Please can I have some juice, a cupcake and a strawberry.
  • Get things done together. Have your child join in and help you with your tasks wherever they can. The holiday season offers many opportunities to teach new vocabulary and concepts as you go about holiday activities. For example, as you decorate the tree or wrap presents, use and teach your child new naming words (e.g., star, reindeer, candle), location words (e.g., top, under, behind, back, front), action words (e.g., wrap, decorate, hang) and mental state terms (e.g., hope, like, know, wish, think). Acoustically highlight new words, concepts and sentence structures, and use them repetitively throughout your conversation.

Helping your child hear and listen

When families and friends all get together in a room, there’s one thing that’s unavoidable… more background noise. For children with hearing loss this can make it harder for them to hear and listen.

Activities like decorating the Christmas tree offer opportunities to teach new words and language.
Activities like decorating the Christmas tree offer opportunities to teach new words and language.

But, there are things you can do to help support a good listening environment:

  • Be aware of background noise and try to reduce it. Sometimes that could be as simple as turning down music or a TV.
  • You could use soft furnishings like cushions or carpets throughout a room.
  • Stay close by your child when talking with them.
  • Speak at a normal volume as much as is possible. Sometimes you might need to raise your voice in a noisy environment, but shouting won’t necessarily help your child to understand you better.
  • When you are speaking, use natural gestures if you need to. For example, if you call your child to come over to you, then also wave your hands in a “come here” gesture.
  • Cue them to listen by getting their attention before talking to them.
  • Where possible use your remote microphone system

We would like to wish all our families a wonderful holiday season!