How often should you be working on speech with your child? Well, the number is hidden in your routines. Speech therapists recommend implementing these strategies during routines so that the practice is continuous and effortless. So, how can I do this? Here are three routines that you can begin to target language in:
1. Waking up
Repetitive songs and words can be used as your child begins their day to encourage language production in the morning. Music is motivating for children and can increase attention to what you are doing. For example, if you are in the bathroom you can sing or say repetitively, “brush brush brush your teeth, wash wash wash your hands.” If you are making breakfast, “eat eat eat cereal, drink drink drink water.” The more frequently you use a repetitive song or word the more likely a child will link it to the action and begin to use it independently. These songs or repetitive phrases can be modified for any activities you do in your morning routine.
2. Snack time
Waiting time and piece-by-piece are two effective strategies that can be used to encourage productions and requests. Offer two choices to your child for what they would like to eat. For example, “would you like apples or bananas?” If your child points or looks in the direction of one, model the item in a slow and over-enunciated speech close to your mouth to encourage imitations and productions. Another effective strategy is piece-by-piece. Cut up a large snack or choose a snack that has pieces like Cheerios or crackers. Give your child 1-2 at a time and wait. See how they communicate with you for more. Some children will pull your hand to their bowl, some will shout to gain your attention. This can be a great way to work on the request “more.” You can model the word or sign (depending on the level of communication your child is at) “more,” “more X'' or “more please.”
3. Bath time
Communication temptations are a great tool to use when encouraging your child to communicate with you. If your child is seated in the bath. Turn on the water and fill up the tub slightly and then turn it off. You are creating a temptation for your child to request by changing the way you would normally prepare them for a bath. Every time you turn it back on and fill up the tub, model “more water” or “turn on.”
Routines are one of the most effective ways to support your child's language development in your home. If you are ever unsure about how to implement these strategies into your daily routines you can speak with your speech-language pathologist.