So much has changed in recent months and many of our summer travel plans have been adjusted to reflect our new normal. Even if your family is taking a day trip or driving some place new for a visit, it may be difficult for some of our little ones. Not to fret! One of our Speech-Language Pathologist, LeThu Nguyen, has shared her tips on how to make this unique summer fun and enjoyable for the entire family!
- Provide visuals such as a countdown calendar, pictures/videos of your destination, and pictures/videos of things you will see and do.
- Check the library for simple children’s books that will help introduce your planned activities (e.g. books about the beach, going to the zoo, etc.)
- Prepare your child for the transportation method you’ll be using. Singing a song and engaging in play about traveling will help familiarize them with the new experience. For example, sing “riding in my car – vroom, vroom, vroom,” while having a favorite stuffed animal go on an imaginary road trip.
Introduce your child to upcoming sensory experiences.
- Talk about and gradually expose your child to things they may be sensitive to, such as warm sand, rough rocks, or loud animal noises.
- Talk about how these things feel using a calm voice or even a song (“The sand on my toes feels hot, hot, hot…”).
- Find what works for your child! Exposure and preparation will help eliminate fear for your child and will give you strategies to use in the tough moments.
Let your child be an active planner.
- Allow them to be a part of getting ready for the trip. They will be even more excited if they had a hand in preparing for it!
- Create a packing checklist together and let your child provide input on what they would like to bring.
- Go on a scavenger hunt to make packing fun and engaging.
Incorporate goals and targets into your vacation plans.
- You don’t have to pick between precious vacation time and maintaining therapy progress! Use the new environment and experience to target your child’s goals.
- Play “I spy” in the car to work on vocabulary, speech sounds, and/or descriptive language.
- Hide seashells in the sand, on the beach towel, and under the beach chair to introduce spatial concepts.
- Bring binoculars or a magnifying glass to observe animals for color, patterns, and behaviors.
- Help your child answer yes-no questions or make choices when getting ready each day (e.g. “Do you want to wear the blue hat or the red hat?”)
Lasty, relax and enjoy!
- Set a relaxed pace. Give your child extra time to transition between activities.
- Plan less structured time to allow your child to adjust to and explore the new environment.
And remember, it’s okay to have a few “flip flop” moments!