Tried and true, these fun summer activities will provide your child with opportunities to practice brave speaking and stay social this summer. Remember, that each child is at a different stage of communication and you can modify any activity to meet your child’s needs.
1 – Swimming Pool/Beach
My kids love the water! We have them ask the lifeguards questions, engage in conversation with other kids while building sand castles, and use their big brave voices while playing “Marco, Polo.”
2 – Family Reunions/Visits
We live far away from our relatives so summer time is a time to reconnect. It can be stressful to engage with family that we haven’t seen in a while so we make sure ahead of time that people are informed of the best ways to interact with Buttercup and Petunia. There are countless ways you can create exposures with these visits. Some of our favorite ways to break the silence with cousins are: make tie-dye shirts together, play outdoor relay games, play “Just Dance” on the Wii, make a campfire and eat ‘smores, and take turns telling jokes.
3 – Library
Many libraries have summer reading programs, story times, and other activities. When we go to the library I make sure to plan ahead and have the girls prepare what they are going to ask the librarian – usually where they can find a certain book or movie.
4 – Neighborhood Surveys
To give Petunia and Buttercup an opportunity to speak on their own terms to our neighbors, we create surveys. Last time we did this they took turns asking what the person’s favorite ice cream flavor was as we went around the neighborhood. Some of the people they already knew and had not really spoken to, and others we had not met before. I think next time we will ask “What is your favorite cookie?” and later make some homemade cookies to deliver, giving my kids a second chance to use their brave voices.
5 – Summer Camps
What a variety of options! My girls have done music camp, dance camp, soccer camp, and tumbling camp. You can probably find a camp in your community to suit any kid’s interests. Our brave speaking exposures at camps have included saying their names when asked, answering roll call, answering forced choice questions, and even telling their teacher or a classmate a joke.
6 – Lemonade Stand
Lemonade. A summer favorite! My kids love to put up a lemonade stand. At a lemonade stand they have opportunities to ask questions like “Would you like a small or large cup?”, answer questions like “How much does it cost?”, and say things like Hello, Thanks, Your Welcome, and Bye. It has also been good to practice handing the cup of lemonade to someone and taking the money in exchange. This type of handing things to others and taking what is offered from some else’s hand has sometimes been a struggle for them.
7 – The Fair
Wow, so much to do at the fair! They can order food, speak to the attendants at the rides and games, and scream loudly while on the roller coaster!
8 – Ice Cream Parlor
This is probably Buttercup and Petunia’s all time favorite way to practice brave speaking. I love that they have an immediate reward for using their brave voice to order – yummy ice cream! In addition to ordering, sometimes they will ask for a sample, and we always try to include a please and thank you, if they are ready for that.
9 – Play Dates at the Park
We have found that with Petunia, play dates at home are hard. She is very protective of her stuff and has a difficult time sharing with people outside of family and close friends. The park is neutral ground and has been a great alternative. She can run around and release some tension and she has enough space that she doesn’t feel threatened. Buttercup and Petunia love to pretend they run a restaurant or teach school so we use a lot of forced choice questions as they play with their friends which often leads to some spontaneous conversations. We also bring snacks and they ask their friends if they would like to eat with us.
10 – Farmer’s Market
We just love fresh produce. The girls ask questions about the produce and hand over the money to pay for it. Then we get to come home and make a healthy meal together.
So, What is on your list?
If you would like my free guide to help set up brave speaking exposures for your child this summer click here.