Becoming the Clinician at Christmas!

Using what you have at home to develop language skills this Christmas Season!


The holidays are upon us and that usually means different routines, different environments and different Christmas toys to play with!

With the busyness that this season brings, thinking about other things amongst the packing, wrapping and cooking whilst looking after your toddler can be overwhelming! The thought of intertwining language therapy to assist your child to learn and say more words can feel insurmountable during this holiday period. But it is actually very possible without having to eat into your holiday plans or pack any extra specific things to work towards helping your child learn language.

Here are three opportunities that you have to expand and model language-rich vocabulary and sentences with your toddler!

Packing your bags

Packing can be laborious and sometimes even stressful but involving your toddler in the process and using the activity as a way of facilitating language learning can make it much more fun!

Having the “bag” and clothing items as target words can allow you to model repetitive sentences to assist your toddler in grasping the words around packing.

“Shirts in the bag, pants in the bag, nappies in the bag” are all great phrases to repeat while packing with your toddler.

You can even use colours “green shirt” to provide further modeling and even pause “shirt in the _____” to give them the opportunity to join and express.


Wrapping presents

Wrapping presents also allows for great opportunities to model language (just make sure the present your wrapping is not theirs so no surprises are spoiled!). Presents come in all shapes and sizes and talking about “paper over the box/circle/ball” can support your toddler in expanding their vocabulary.

Toddlers generally like to be involved in helping and having them “fold the paper” and “stick on the tape” is another repetitive phrase to support their language development.

Preparing food

Preparing food is generally a necessity around Christmas time and this activity is a great opportunity to facilitate the learning of language through modeling and commenting, without having to change what or how you cook!

The key is to model the words used to explain what you are doing while your toddler is watching or helping!

If chopping veges for a salad or fruit for pavlova, modeling the word “chop” or “cut” and saying the food that is getting chopped is a great way to model two words containing a verb and a noun – “chop the tomato, chop the lettuce”. Modeling other verbs around mealtimes including “pour”, “stir” and “peel” are other great ways to allow your child to hear the words related to the activity.


Although you may be having a break from sessions with your clinician over this holiday period, you as the parent can become the clinician and use the many fantastic opportunities to model language to help your child to communicate. With the many combinations of words and phrases to model to your child, the most important thing is to have fun while doing it! All the while continuing to get the jobs required to enjoy a very Merry Christmas with your little one who is always learning! 


Enjoy the festive season!

Lisa Neuendorf – Speech Pathologist