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Be Prepared for Winter Break

The holidays can be magical and peaceful, but it can also mean kids home from school on winter break, schedules thrown off, and too much candy! We’ve put together a few tips to help you enjoy this special time of year with the family:

The benefit of old-fashioned toys

According to NBC news, old-fashioned toys are some of the most educational and worthwhile gifts you can give kids this holiday season. Toys like wooden blocks require kids to interact, imagine, and problem solve in ways that even an educational game on the iPad cannot achieve.

In order to express creativity, kids should move their actual bodies and have a tangible way to express their creativity. So when grandparents or friends are asking what to buy your kids this holiday, try suggesting a good old fashioned game. It does not have to be expensive or fancy to be effective.

Tis the season to be flexible

The holidays are packed with parties and obligations, but be careful not to put difficult demands on yourself. If you need to come late or leave early, do what you need to do. A little flexibility will go a long way. Holiday photos are nice too, but not if it means a battle over clothes. Let your child dress in what is most comfortable for them and everyone will be more relaxed.

Try a local transit museum

The New York Transit Museum staff noticed that their most enthusiastic visitors were boys on the spectrum, a phenomenon seen at similar museums around the globe. For an activity the whole family may enjoy, try a local transit museum or even simply a ride on the subway or train, stop have a snack, and make your way back.

Set aside time for self-care

You know that whole put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others thing? There’s a reason for that. If you and your partner are burned out, everything this month will just be that much harder. Drop the kids off with a trusted relative or experienced sitter and sneak away for a glass of wine, a movie, dinner date or simply enjoy a quiet morning in the house alone.

Sensory activities for snow days

Every child needs sensory input to stay focused, regulated, and organized throughout the day, especially children who have sensory processing challenges. If the weather is frightful, these make for some great tactile/messy play indoor activities for a child with tactile processing challenges:

  • Play-doh/theraputty
  • Finger painting
  • Shaving cream
  • Create sensory bins of rice, beans, sand, noodles, etc.
  • Cooking/baking (allow the child to mix with their hands to explore new textures)

Check out our other winter blogs for additional ideas and tips!

Handling Breaks from School

Join one of our BCBAs, Jennifer Bartell, to learn about handling breaks from school. She discusses using multiple kinds of visual schedules.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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10 Ways to Promote Language Skills During Winter Break

School is out for a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean your child has to stop working on language concepts. Using these 10 tips, you can winter girlwork with your child to promote his or her language skills in a fun and meaningful way!

10 Ways to Promote Language Skills During Winter Break:

    1. Narrate Everything: Explaining what you’re doing can help expose your child to the correct production of language concepts and verb tenses. Narration can also help to increase your child’s vocabulary size. Some examples include: “I am putting the eggs in the bowl” or “I cracked the eggs”, etc.
    2. Make Lists: Creating a list of items can help increase vocabulary. If you create lists with your child of grocery items, gifts needed, or even locations, it can help to promote language development and thought organization.
    3. Build Vocabulary: Targeting and explaining new winter words can help to improve your child’s vocabulary. Saying things like, “look at the snowman,” “the icicle is hanging from the tree,” or “look at those children sledding,” will reinforce the new words and encourage usage.
    4. Read Aloud: Reading aloud to your child is extremely beneficial for language development. When reading stories, emphasizing and reinforcing new words will enhance vocabulary skills, and asking questions while reading encourages understanding (e.g., what did the Polar Bear see?). If age appropriate, ask your child to retell the story (or part of the story). This will allow him or her to use new vocabulary words in context.
    5. Emphasize Pronouns: Many children struggle with correct usage of pronouns, so emphasizing pronouns at family functions can help reinforce correct production. Some examples include: “look what he is doing,” “she made the cake,” or “I hope we get to watch the movie!”
    6. Take Turns: Playing holiday games can promote your child’s ability to follow directions and learn about turn-taking. Games are a great way to target these language skills, and you can reinforce turn-taking and direction following by saying things like, “my turn” or “your turn.” Children may also benefit from posing the question, “whose turn is it?” and then allowing time for them to answer with “mine” or “yours.”
    7. Promote Social Skills: Pragmatic language, or the social use of language, can be targeted during winter break as well. Preparing your child to use appropriate greetings when family arrives, demonstrating appropriate volume during family gatherings, and discussing the social rules of gift exchange can be very beneficial to children who may be struggling with how to act in social situations.
    8. Ask “Wh”-questions: Asking your child questions throughout the day is a great way to encourage language skills, including naming and understanding functions. Questions like, “what do we use to make a snowman?” or “where do your gloves/hat/scarf go?” or “who baked the cookies?” can all help to enhance language skills.
    9. Use Sequencing: Discussing the appropriate sequence of actions for winter activities can not only target language concepts (e.g., first, next, last), it can also target your child’s awareness and planning. Asking your child to sequence how to get ready to build a snowman or wrap a present will allow him or her to list the steps required using many different language concepts.
    10. Find Similarities/Differences: Examining the similarities and differences of winter concepts as they relate to summer or other seasons can solidify a child’s understanding of seasons, as well as develop winter vocabulary. Asking questions like, “how is snow different from rain?” will target various cognitive/language skills and promote language development.




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