Use Your Community Activities to Boost Your Child’s Language

bridgetPosts, Posts

I don’t know about you, but as a part-time stay at home parent, I find myself needing to get out of the house with my kids. If we stay at home together all day, I (and they!) get restless and crabby. So I’ve found places to go, and ways to get out, and along the way, discovered so many fun, language-packed activities.

Now don’t get me wrong…there are plenty of opportunities for rich language use at home. And, if you’re already in listening and spoken language therapy, I’m sure your therapist has given you a ton of ideas.

But if you’re like me and like to find new places to go, I wanted to give you some ideas for (mostly free) ways to do that while enriching your child’s language at the same time. I’ll detail the ones available in my city, but I hope it will give you ideas of where to look if you’re searching out opportunities where you live.

Here are some of our favorites:

Our Public Library

We have an amazing public library system. They have the regular story time activities, but they also have other events planned throughout the week. We’ve been to craft times, themed story and craft times, a singing time activity, themed activities around current events, and most of the branches also have play spaces in their children’s sections.

Librarians by nature are also language lovers, so you won’t have to look far for new vocabulary and language. This past weekend we went to our local library to get new books, and ended up finding a craft about hedgehogs. My 3 year old had never heard of hedgehogs before that, but by the time we left he knew what they were and that they were “spiky.”

The Local Parks Department

Our local parks and rec department maintains a great system of city parks where we can play and interact with others, but they also have a whole slew of other activities as well. During the summer they host something called “tot lot,” which is held at a park. They provide games, crafts, water activities, etc.

In the winter (which is really most of the year where we live), we take advantage of their “open gym” time for toddlers. They provide ride on toys, pretend play toys, and you can bring your child to play and burn off some energy. While they’re there they get to interact with other kids and use those language skills you’ve been working so hard on.

Children’s Stores

There are a number of children’s stores (particularly toy stores) around us that host different children’s events. One has a weekly story time in the store, and another has had a series where people from different professions (chef, farmer, etc.) talk to the kids about their jobs. These sorts of events have exposed my kids to lots of new vocabulary, concepts, and opportunities to use their language to interact with other kids.

Museums, Outdoor Learning Centers, and other Educational Institutions

In our community, we are lucky to have an outdoor learning center that hosts kids’ classes and field trips, and they also have a free outdoor (and indoor) play area. There are always other kids there, and their nature play area has lots of hands on things to explore like stumps, a canoe and oars, a pretend campfire, etc.

Pumpkin painting

A local museum offers sort of an open time when kids can come and play, and one of the awesome things there is they have art supplies the kids can use (all for free). So not only do they get to play and make art, but they also get to leave the mess there. It’s a win/win! Anytime my kids can get messy and then someone else cleans it up, I’m all in.