Ok, I admit it. I’m a soccer fan. I’ve always had a passing interest in “the beautiful game,” and I find it fascinating and enchanting that, no mater where in the world I travel, I see kids playing soccer (we’re not gonna get into soccer vs. futbol here). I was a casual fan of our professional local team for years, but when they became an MLS team, my fandom increased accordingly. When my own kids started playing and I started spending hours each week watching practices and games, my fate was sealed. 

It is, of course, the first day of the World Cup. Arguably the biggest sporting event on the planet, it is also an event that provides some great opportunities for working on a child’s speech and language goals. If you have a rampant futbol fan in your house, here are a few ways you can sneak in some speech and language practice while not changing the subject 😉

  • Vocabulary: Here’s a great little language lesson about the protests in Brazil set up by the folks at the New York Times Language Quiz. Read the passage and fill in the blanks with the appropriate vocabulary. When you’re done, there are some nice extension activities to reinforce the new vocabulary.
  • Asking and Answering Questions: fill out a quickie Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart for the game, for Brazil, or for your child’s favorite team. Ask your child “What do you know about (subject)?” and write it down. Then ask, “What questions do you have about (subject)?” Do some research to answer those questions by using the internet or by visiting the library. Finally, ask your child, “What did you learn about (subject)?” You can uses sites like this treasure trove of links from educator Larry Ferlazzo, this one from Activity Village, or this YouTube video with FIFA soccer rules
  • Comprehension: Follow along in this very cool Adventure Series that’s being written, one chapter every day, about the events of the World Cup. Read a chapter each night, and ask your child a few wh- quesitons (who, what, where, when, or why) when you’re done. You can also ask your child to re-tell the previous chapter’s events before you read a new chapter. I’ll be doing this one with my kids!
  • Initial /g/ sound and breath support: Ok, this one is mostly just for fun, but we all know that the Andres Cantor’s “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” is synonymous with soccer. But did you know that it can a can be a great way to work on using the initial /g/ sound in a natural context? You can also have a family contest to see who can hold that /o/ for the longest, or have your child practice it and try to beat his/her own time. 

From daily geography lessons to practicing color words, the opportunities the World Cup provides for learning are really endless. Most importantly, though, take a minute to talk about how small the world really is, especially when we all stop for a few minutes just to play. Happy kicking!