Turning Holiday Moments into Learning Experiences

Cheer ye, hear ye! During this holiday season make the most out of your child’s listening, learning and language potential through the discussions you have before, during and after your favorite activities. Learn more below.

Decorations, songs, presents and treats! The holidays offer endless and unique opportunities for listening, learning and discussing community events and family traditions. It can feel like a busy time of year, but the good news is that you can seamlessly incorporate LSL strategies into your family’s holiday activities, making the most out of every learning moment. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing learn best by interacting and discussing daily events and activities with you and holiday moments are some of the most exciting and motivating times of the year. It’s not so much the activity itself but how you approach the language in any learning opportunity. Here are a few ideas to make the most of the season:

What’s in a Decoration?
If you have holiday decorations or ornaments in your house, consider what makes each design different. Just having unique decorations in and around the house and community opens the opportunity for endless discovery and discussion.

Tell Me About It First
Help your child make a mental picture that they can match and find a decoration. Describe what you see before pointing to the decorations. Hearing it first encourages auditory brain development and helps your child hear and process information. Remember to give them plenty of wait time to process the information and respond. “I hear someone who says ‘Neigh!’”

Think Details
What makes a snowman a snowman? Describing object details, such as a decorative snowman, helps your child build permanent vocabulary and think about attributes that are associated with things. You’re actually expanding their word network and helping to build a picture in their brain. There is no limit to the different words you can use. “I see someone who is made of snow, has three buttons, a long carrot nose and a top hat.”

Location, Location, Location
Because children who are deaf or hard of hearing can miss the subtle auditory differences between concept words like in, on, under, below, behind, beside or next to they need extra practice hearing and learning these concepts. Practice these location terms when decorating or finding items on the tree. Remember to acoustically highlight the subtle differences between concept words. “I’m looking for a decoration hanging behind the snowman.”

Baking Holiday Treats
The kitchen opens a whole world of listening, planning, following directions, practicing vocabulary for the senses and who doesn’t love making (and eating) holiday treats? You can integrate LSL strategies right into your baking adventures with your child.

Grow Auditory Memory
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing need lots of practice building their auditory memory for lists and directions. Start by reading the recipe aloud and counting needed items on your fingers. You can encourage your child to repeat the list before finding the items so they can benefit from the auditory feedback of hearing their own version of the list. “We will need sugar, butter and flour. Can you tell me what we need?”

Your child needs to hear vocabulary words multiple times before new words become part of their spoken language. They also need to hear verbs in their various future, present and past forms. Before you even start, you can talk about the steps of what you will do in the process of mixing, baking and decorating. This gives your child an opportunity to hear the vocabulary even before you begin. Then, while you’re adding and mixing ingredients, they can practice using the vocabulary. Remember to take pictures to add to your experience book later. While waiting for the cookies to bake, you can talk about what you already did. “We added the butter and sugar, stirred it and poured in the flour.”

Share the Treats (and Process)
Use your photos to talk through your baking experience with your child. To help build literacy, write down what your child tells you. Support their narration by restating their version back to them while acoustically highlighting any missing sounds or word endings. You’re right, we scooped the cookie dough and rolled it into balls.”

Remember, your child is always learning during the interactions they have with you. During this holiday season make the most out of your child’s listening, learning and language potential through the discussions you have before, during and after your favorite activities. Enjoy every moment as another opportunity to watch your child learn and grow toward their listening and spoken language potential.