‘Special time’ is a time when you and your child play together – in addition to the times you already have – not instead of. It’s a time to help your child develop their speech and language skills through play.
How to have ‘special time’:
Explain to your child about having this time together and that it is their job to chose what to do e.g. ‘ This is your special time…for the next 10 mins, what shall we play?’
Allow your child to select the activity, toy or game e.g. cars, dolls, puzzles. Note, this should not be reading a book, watching TV or playing a lively outdoor game as these types of activities can be difficult at practising language strategies.
During ‘special time’:
- ‘Special time’ can last from 5-15 minutes, change the time limit to what suits you. This should not be extended.
- When your child has chosen what to do, go to a room or space where you will not be disturbed.
- Remove obvious distractions e.g. TV or radio.
- The adult should follow the child’s lead, commenting on what they are doing with short sentences and adding ideas to their play where appropriate.
- Play with your child from 5-15 minutes, giving them your undivided attention.
What should you do when you have finished ‘special time’?
- At the end of ‘special time’, make it clear to the child that ‘special time’ has finished.
- Your child can carry on playing if they wish, however this is no longer ‘special time’.
- If you have other children, it is important to give them their special time too
How often should I do ‘special time’?
Try to include at least three ‘special times’ a week, but try and not do more than 6 in a week. Don’t try and do more than one a day.
It is important to keep special time to 5-15 minutes in length (chose what’s best for you) because it makes it easier for you to have ‘special time’ more often. If you spend a long time on it, you are more likely to miss a day when you are busy.
My experience with my Aryan (‘special time’ play):
Goal: Engage in short periods (10-15 minutes) of one-to-one play with Aryan, 3 times a week following ‘special time play’ strategies.
- Reduce the number of questions I ask and focus on commenting on what Aryan is doing using simple language e.g. rather than ‘What’s that?’, I might say, ‘Look, a ball!’ (you could also use Makaton sign or a hand gesture to support the words you say e.g. ball).
- Keep language simple when talking to Aryan, allowing him time to process the key words.
- Give extra time to respond, for example, wait for Aryan to respond when I model to him e.g. He tries to copy sounds, words, gestures/signs, facial expressions/eye contact. I hold back on saying ‘go’ in ready steady go games, giving him time to respond in some way.
- Copy and extend Aryan’s vocalisation and attempts at words. For example, if Aryan says a word, e.g. ‘ball’, I copy and extend this by modelling it back to him e.g. ‘big ball’ or ‘more balls’.
- Animal/transport noises: I encourage Aryan to experiment with his voice by modelling animal/transport sounds to him (looking at books/going on walks).
- I offer Aryan a choice of two: I hold up the two choices and model each word (‘weetabix or eggs’) then wait for a response e.g. eye contact/reaching/pointing/vocalising/saying the word). I then praise and model his choice and response e.g. model ‘egg’.
- I position myself at Aryan’s level to support him to look at my face and to attend to what I am saying/signing (e.g. bend down, sit or lay on the floor).
Hope you found this helpful, I’m off for Aryan’s ‘special play time’ now!
Your SLT, Tina Kad xoxo