One of the most unnerving parent things I’ve done is teach a child to drive. You are suddenly aware of all the hazards you could hit (cones, curbs, pedestrians) as well as all of those that could hit you (crazy minivan mom, other new drivers near the high school). I found myself talking in a constant stream of consciousness, “I’m watching that car at the next intersection and checking that they don’t pull out suddenly. I’m thinking we should get over a lane so we can take the next left at the light. I can see that the vehicles ahead have their brake lights on so I’m anticipating we’ll need to start slowing down too….”
Of course when you start, you start in a parking lot so they can get acclimated to what’s going on and get a feel for what it’s like. Then you head out on less trafficked roads. The highway comes quite a bit later.
This is exactly what it feels like when I watch my expressive language/pragmatics students in the classroom. Teachers and parents want me to assist them in that setting which is a great goal, but it’s a verbal highway—topics changing all the time, lots of distractions, hazards all over the place. We need to start in the therapy room parking lot where we can practice, make mistakes with minimal consequences and practice again.
For these littles, I’ve started using “You say…” task cards. These give us a quick scene and always end with “you say…” so they start to realize the expectations that we have in social situations. Lots of the scenarios prompt initiation of conversation too because so many of my little ones want desperately to be involved and included, but have no idea where to even start. The scenarios require some inferencing, more great practice for these little ones and with practical situations.
I have a couple of themes completed, You Say…in the Classroom and You Say…at Home (with “Around Town,” “At the Doctor’s,” and “About Sports” coming soon). In the meantime, grab a free copy of “You Say…at the Holidays” to use right now! Only one of these is specific to Christmas, most involve situations with relatives, so you can get some practical practice in right now!
The full packs include 44 cards in color (but can be printed black and white) and if you laminate them, there is room for older students to write answers with a dry erase marker. I’ve also included an answer key; of course it’s far from exhaustive, but it’s just enough of a guide for graduate students, SLP assistants or parents/volunteers. The holiday version is in black & white (consider printing on colored paper) and contains 12 task cards.