Kate Biss Autumn Thoughts

Be inspired by the changing seasons, help your child to develop their speech, language and communication 

The evenings are cooling off now and in the mornings there is heavy dew on the grass.  Let's begin to think about how to bring autumn into speech and language therapy sessions. 

Using the great outdoors and connecting with nature promotes children’s feelings of calm and happiness; a good place to be when you are learning language.  It’s also good for our own well being.  

So, how about making the most of a journey you make every day?  Like walking home from school or nursery.  Just leave a little extra time to explore your neighbourhood. 

Keep a look-out for what sparks your child’s interest and use this to help your child to develop their speech, language and communication. 

How can you spot what your child is interested in?    

If your child is not yet speaking, they may get excited, move their body and make lots of noise.  They may be reaching, pointing or looking at something.  Your child may be at a stage where they are using gesture and saying single words, or using simple sentences. 

Whatever stage your child is at, follow what sparks their interest, give them time to communicate and listen to what they are saying or doing.   This is when children learn language best. 

Learning language 

Experiencing the world right here and now is the best way to learn language.  As adults, we need to use words again and again in many different ways for our children to make the connection between the word and what it means.  This means we repeat words lots and lots and lots! 

Why not use the senses, hearing, seeing, touching and smelling. 

Especially in autumn when there are so many senses to experience.  

Think about autumn leaves:  

  • SOUNDING: crunchy 
  • LOOKING: orange, brown, pointy, round, thin, big, small   
  • SMELLING: damp or musty 
  • FEELING:  wet, dry, hard, brittle or squishy. 

These are all great describing words.   What we can do with leaves is great fun too!   

Use words like kicking, throwing, falling, floating, raking, picking-up, collecting. 

For children who are not yet using words, let them take the lead and follow what sparks their interest.  Use words and gestures that describe what they are doing or seeing.  One or two words is enough and repeat them lots of times in different ways e.g., splash, big splash, splash in the puddle.  Try to use the little words, ones like ‘in’ and ‘the’, they are important too. 

For children who are using more words, expand their variety.  Introduce new describing words like rough or smooth and doing words like collecting or kicking.  Use these words again and again to talk about what your child is doing.   

Remember; say it as your child would, if they could.  This means that you pretend you are inside your child’s head and talk as if you are your child.  e.g. “I’m kicking the leaves.”  “I’ve got a huge pile of leaves.”  "Kicking leaves is great fun.” 

If getting out with your child in all weathers is really not your thing, try making a sensory bin.  You can still make use of the language tips described above.   

Gather together a variety of real objects or toys and put them into a bowl or tray.  Cover the objects with leaves (straw, oats and rice also work really well).   

Let your child explore what is hiding in the bowl.  Remember to watch and wait….   

What sparks your child’s interest?  Use words to talk about what they are seeing, touching, hearing, smelling or doing right now.

Here are some ideas of what to put in an autumn themed sensory bin: 

  • pine cones, acorns, conkers, sticks 
  • baby squash/pumpkin, apples
  • toy tractors, trailers and diggers 
  • pots, scoops, spoon or tongs 
  • cover them with leaves, oats, rice or straw 

Why not go out and collect these with your child, just like a treasure hunt! 

There are so many ways for you to support your child’s speech and language development using what is right outside your front door.  No need to buy toys, download activities or cut up pictures.

Step outside with your child, embrace the changing seasons and get exploring!  Have fun!

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