Holiday Time: Fun, Friends, Food and More
By Maureen Penko
December brings memories of what a wonderful time of the year this is for myself and my family. The anticipation of Christmas is the biggest highlight of all the holidays, whether one celebrates it or not. There are the lights, music and the bustle of shoppers in the decorated stores buying gifts. Those who do celebrate may make wish lists with their child and write a letter to Santa. My children wrote one every year and mailed it to the North Pole in the hopes that they would get all the things they wanted.
Making lists is a perfect way to develop vocabulary. Parents can say the words, model the pronunciation, perhaps look with their child for the pictures in a catalogue or flyer to cut out and glue in a picture list. For the child who is learning to read and write, they can practice printing, spelling and reading. Children can also write a note to the grandparents and proudly share their news with your help. Fancy the letter up with photos and perhaps a drawing.
Added to this task is the mailing of the letter. These days not many children have the opportunity to join their parents in purchasing a stamp and experience mailing a letter.
Regardless of the age, children look forward to surprises and one of the items that promotes this is the advent calendar that does the count down for the 25 days of Christmas and of course the reward is the chocolate inside.
While looking at books for this article, I had the pleasure of listening to a four-year-old read out loud in a book store while her mother made a list of books to buy. I commented on her reading and she told me that her mother read to her all the time. What I was most impressed about was how she also looked at the pictures and created a story of her own. She confirmed that by saying "I look at the pictures to help me with the story," So in her mind she was reading the story.
This is the season to promote imagination. Model to your child the phrases "I think.... I wonder, Guess what...."
The types of sentence structure you use can be copied by your child and promotes language expansion. Building comprehension of what you are saying can be done by saying and showing for the younger child, while for the older child checking the definitions shows them how to use the dictionary. For example, the phrase the stone sat still can be modelled for meaning. You stay still and get your child to copy you to grasp the meaning.
For some children, this will be their first winter. Not only is the experience new but so is the vocabulary. Words such as, crunchy snow, snowflakes, slippery, icicles, frosty, shiver, windburn, to name a few. There is also the sequence of getting ready first this then .... and last. Winter signals indoor and outdoor activities. These experiences allow a child to understand what they need to wear to do a particular activity such as skating, tobogganing and skiing. There are many places that one can go as a family to have these experiences at no cost or a small cost. You can find these in the Leisure guide.
Use this time to share as many experiences and promote the meaning of the season in which ever way suits your culture and talk to your child about these various celebrations. Games, songs, baking, crafts are all part of the indoor festivities. Regardless of your child's age there is something that you can do with them to expand their knowledge and develop their speech and language skills. Most of all it is the gift of time that you spend sharing together. This season also has special music, games and story books that can be added to the gift list. Music has been one of the most powerful mediums to teach our children melody and words. We associate the season with beautiful voices and song. You can go to concerts at the school, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has children's performances, and listening to CD's are all the ways to promote melody.
Books are always a hit when it comes to a snuggle and share time. Reading together is very important when we have a child who has difficulty managing transitions, or a lot of excitement. It can be a routine activity that is calming. For the child who may show signs of stuttering, keep the excitement to a minimum, have restful times, and try out some hands-on quiet activities.
In closing here are some titles of books I found that are new this year and inviting to read:
- What Cats Think by, Mies van Hout text by John Spray. The vocabulary in this is splendid.
- Penny and Her Sled by, Kevin Henkes.
- Stretchy McHandsome by Judy Schachner
- Small in the City by Sydney Smith
- Runaway by Cordell Barker A National Film Board Collection
- Voyage of Frostheart by Jamie Littler
- Shine! by J.J and Chris Grabenstein "In a school, full of stars is there room for one more?"
I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season in 2019
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