By Madison Gwizdalski MS-CCC, SLP
Sometimes as adults it can feel almost impossible to find time to play with your child. Between rushing to get ready for work, chores, and getting dinner on the table you might not even have the energy to sit down and play on most days! Play is extremely important in our child’s development, but are there some more convenient ways to facilitate language learning on those days when we just feel exhausted?
Yes! Your daily routines – think bath time, breakfast, getting ready, doing laundry- are a great way to target a variety of communication skills. Below are some ideas for making dinner, but you can apply many of these ideas to the daily routines that are specific to your family. The most important component to this is that your child is actively involved in this process so that they get a hands-on learning experience!
- Labeling objects: cooking and mealtimes are a great opportunity to label everyday items that your child encounters. You can label different foods, different tools (knife, pot, pan), and places in your kitchen (table, refrigerator, sink, stove).
- Labeling actions: there are so many actions to label while cooking! Your child can also participate in these actions by helping you cut (with a child-friendly knife), pour, scoop, sprinkle, stir, and taste.
- Following directions: having your child complete simple directions while cooking and setting up the table is a great way to work on their understanding of language. Get them to complete directions independently and they will feel very accomplished! You can have them participate in these tasks by completing directions such as “put it in the pot” or “put your cup on the table.”
- Describing: introduce more adjectives into your child’s vocabulary during cooking. You can talk about basic concepts such as color, shape, size… but you can also introduce new words about texture (gooey, dry), temperature (hot, cold), and taste (spicy, sweet, bitter).
- Answering questions: asking simple questions throughout this activity will give your child the opportunity to learn a lot about their world! You can ask questions about functions (what do we use to stir?), location (where is your cup?), and preference (would you like to cut the apple or banana?).
- Sequencing events: sequencing is an important skill to many aspects of language, including executive functioning, story retell, and understanding complex language! Talk about all the steps necessary to set the table, make a favorite food, or wash hands!
- Tool use: using different tools develops hand strength and coordination. Additionally, tool use contributes to cognitive development and problem solving in children!
Involving your child in these routines will also help them develop a healthy self-esteem, boost their confidence, and empower them to become more independent!