As parents, you have the greatest impact on your child’s speech and language development. I would like to address three of my favorite daily routines for targeting language goals within the home environment. We will talk about how to target specific vocabulary during bath time, mealtime, and bedtime.
Let’s start by talking about bath time. I love using bath time to encourage language because you have a captive audience! Bath time is great time to focus on identifying and labeling body parts. Talk about body parts as you wash them. You can also talk about the concepts of “wet” and “dry” as the child is getting into and out of the bathtub. Various bath toys can also be used to work on action words and phrases (i.e. duck is swimming, frog is jumping).
Mealtime is another key time to get your child talking! During meals and snacks you can work on naming foods and requesting more. Use meals to have your child request for more food. This can be done using a sign, the word more, or the name of the food. Remember to give your child time to respond independently before you give them a model.
Lastly, you can also use bedtime to promote your child’s language development. During this time you can sing a good night song, read books and talk about body parts as your child gets into their pajamas. Book reading routines are great whether you are actually reading the text of the book or just talking about the pictures. Books are a great way to working on identifying vocabulary and naming pictures. Use this time to look at a book with your child while having the point to specific items. You can also have the child tell you about what they see in the pictures.
Regardless of your daily routine, be sure to talk about EVERYTHING! Even if your child is not using words to communicate yet, they are listening to everything you say. Be sure to use short phrases, 2-5 words, with age appropriate vocabulary. Give your child a chance to communicate by incorporating “wait” time (in other words, don’t meet your child’s needs before they have a chance to express them). Your child must have a need and opportunity to communicate. Spending time in these activities will pay off in ways you can’t imagine!