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Summer vacation speech growth and preparing for the school return

In the turbulence of the pandemic, children of school age have had to adapt to homeschooling and missed out on the crucial aspects of learning through socializing with their peers. Understandably, you and your child might be feeling a little apprehensive about the new school year starting and how they will integrate back into the social setting of the classroom.

One way that you can support your child in getting used to being around other children again is to use water play as a fun, yet valuable learning opportunity. Here’s a few ideas to help you create suitable speech growth activities for different age groups:

For 18-month old's, they will greatly benefit from you role modelling how to clearly pronounce different words relating to playing with water. If you have a yard with a sprinkler, you can encourage your child to request whether they would like the water “on” or “off” and turn these requests into a game. Using words such as “splash”, “wet” and “squirt” to describe the water play in a repetitive way will help your child extend their vocabulary and language comprehension. If you don’t have a yard, you can do the same thing with water in the sink, bath or a bucket. Alternatively, head to your local splash park for free fun.

Building on this foundation, you can extend these activities for three-year-old children, by making use of more verbs (action words). Directions to “jump over the water”, “jump high”, “jump low”, or “spray the water” and encouraging children to use thes

e words creates a fun, non-threatening way to extend their vocabulary. When playing with other children, they can take turns to instruct how to move in the water. Children at this age can express their thoughts in sentences and make simple requests. You can also encourage them to talk about their swimsuit in terms of the color of it and if it has any shapes or pictures on it.

For five-year-old's, head to the splash park with some empty plastic containers. Encourage the children who are playing together to give one another directions for how to use the containers – “fill it up”, “empty it”, “dump it out” – and describe whether the container is heavy or light. Using water guns makes it possible to introduce vocabulary describing distance – “shoot the water far”, “shoot the water near”. With a selection of water toys and containers, you can give children choices about what they want to play with – “do you want this or that?” Involving children of this age in choosing what snacks they would like to pack to take to the splash park gives them a sense of independence and a way to use food nouns.

It’s important to remember that different families will have different levels of comfort regarding playful interactions and sharing water toys. Establishing what your neighbours’ boundaries are for their children before heading to the splash park together will help everyone feel safe.

If you have any questions or you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, please call 503-266-1030 or email

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