It may sometimes seem like a difficult task to think of language activities to play with your child, but it doesn’t have to be! You can use everyday moments and activities to encourage language and communication skills and also incorporate quick and easy language games into your everyday life.
Setting aside time in your days to sit down and devote 100% of your attention to playing with your child will be extremely effective in helping him or her increase speech and language skills. But if your time seems to slip away or isn’t as structured as you would like it to be, this post offers some suggestions on how to incorporate some communication/language building tasks into your everyday routine.
To practice labeling (naming objects), you can name different objects that you notice throughout the day. Cups, plates, bowls, spoons, animals, outdoor objects (trees, grass, clouds, sky, etc.) This activity also will help your child practice joint attention skills—“LOOK! I see a cloud! Can you say, ‘cloud?’” Work on having your child look at the object and then back at you (that is joint attention). Alternatively, have your child find and label objects that they see around the house, in a store, etc. Quiz your child and make it fun! So often the “fun” your child is having has a lot to do with how much fun they perceive you to be having—so increase your energy and your excitement about mundane tasks, and they may think the most banal task is fabulous!
If your child is practicing prepositions (in, on, behind, next to, in front, under, on top, off, etc.), hide toys around your house and have your child bring you toys and tell you where he or she found them. When driving, talk about the color of the car in front of your car, and the color of the car behind your car or next to your car. You can say, “What color is the car next to our car?” or you can say “Where is the red car?” Place silly objects on, under, next to, different parts of your body and ask your child where they are or give them the directions to follow: “Put the car on your nose!”
Action words are also easy to work on throughout the day. When you are running an errand, or in a park, or walking, label action words happening in your environment and have your child find/point to what you are referring to or have your child label them him/herself! For example: Ask “What is flying over that tree?” or “Can you find the bird flying over the tree?” You can also practice various action words such as skipping, running, walking, jumping, hopping, crawling, and have your child label them! Let’s skip! We are (pause…) SKIPPING! Or begin an action and have them tell you what to do next – they will enjoy being in charge!
Working on requesting or building language by spying various things from the car (be safe while driving!) I spy a bird! I see a bird! The bird is red. I see a red sign. I see a sign. Where is the red sign? Have your child mimic your model and repeat what you said and find what you identified. Don’t be afraid to be silly. Just before dinner, set the forks on the chairs instead of on the table. Ask your child “Where are the forks?” and laugh when you “realize” you placed them ON the chair instead of ON the table. The next night, put the forks under the plates. You can keep this game going for a long time by placing different items in silly places and having your child help you discover your mistakes.
Create fun language routines in your day to day life such as having a song about bath time. Make it up! Anything goes. You take a bath, you take a bath, you take a bath in the BATH –TUB! Let’s splash the water, let’s splash the water, let’s splash the water DON’T GET ME WET! When your child does something awesome, work on high, middle, and low, by asking them to give you a HIGH five, MIDDLE five or LOW five. You can also do a SMALL high five where you just touch your fingers, or a BIG high five with a large back swing and your entire hand. When you do the small high five, pull your hand back and shout BOOM! Again, anything to make it fun.
When you go to the grocery store, let your child make some choices. Give him two good options and then give him the space to tell you with his words which he wants. The Paw Patrol toothbrush or the Spiderman toothbrush? If they CAN use words, let them. Don’t let them get away with just pointing when it’s a perfect opportunity to practice describing.
As you can see there are many little ways to incorporate descriptions, action words, prepositions, answering questions, and building language more generally with songs and silly games in your day to day routine. I hope you can incorporate even one or two of these suggestions into your time with your child!
Natalie Bowen, MEd, CCC-SLP
Image Courtesy Pixabay/Title Added