As a Speech Language Pathologist, parents are always asking me how they can help their toddler at home. Parents often think that they should use flashcards to increase vocabulary skills. While flashcards can be helpful, a lot of parents find that they don’t have time to use them or that their child does not like them. The truth is that we don’t need things like flashcards to increase language skills. Anytime can be used as an opportunity to promote language development. Even the busiest mom can take everyday tasks and turn them into what I like to call “Talk Time.”
Grocery Shopping: When grocery shopping, push your cart around the produce section. Show your toddler different fruit and vegetables. Let him hold the fruit or vegetable, and name the item as they are holding it. Talk about the item by describing color, shape, taste, and other attributes.
Bath Time: While bathing your toddler, name body parts as you bathe and dry your child. As your child begins to understand a little more, have your child identify body parts by saying things like, “Time to put soap on your arms. Show me your arms.” You can also name items that are related to bath time during bath time like soap, washcloth, bathtub, shampoo, water. You can use verbs such as lather, rinse, scrub, and dry.
Dinner Time: As you feed your child, name foods, drinks, flatware, etc. You can identify the different items for your child and check for understanding by having him identify the items. You can also use this time to model table manners by modeling words such as please, thank you, all done, etc.
Getting Dressed: Name articles of clothing, tell where each one goes, and state its function. You can make this fun by making up a song. My favorite song is: “Socks go on your feet. Socks go on your feet. Yes, I know where they go. Socks go on your feet.” (Tune: The Farmer in the Dell)
Bed time: Review your bedtime routine with your child by naming things that must be done before bed such as brushing your teeth, taking a bath, putting on pajamas, and reading a book. You can ask what tasks need to be completed and review the steps for each task out loud with your child as the task= is being completed. Name and identify bedtime objects such as pillow, blanket, bed, lamp, etc. Talk to your child and review all the things that he did that day. You can say something like, “Today was a fun day. You went to Grandma’s house, played in the dirt with your dump trucks, ate spaghetti for dinner, and then played hide and seek. I can’t wait to see what you will do tomorrow.” You can use bedtime to read a book to your child. Label different items and characters in the book, and ask questions to check for understanding. You can review major events in the story to promote story sequencing.