By Leslie Lindsay
Super-cute board book for use with toddlers in a home or clinic setting to help with early language development, plus kids will delight in the lift-the-flap feature.
~Books on Monday, Part 2|Always with a Book~
Last week, we chatted with Dr. T. about her hands-on, practical, and FUN board book for kids–and their caregivers to read and manipulate. Today, she presents some fab ways to use your morning routine to increase your child’s language skills. I love these ideas because they are accessible, plus children will delight in collaborating with you. The key here is to make it feel natural, as if it’s part of your normal day-to-day routine, not a ‘sit and learn’ or another ‘chore’ on your to-do list. Kids are smart, they pick up on this stuff. Best to ‘sneak it in’ in a way that makes it feel like fun and play.
5 ways to use your morning routine to increase your toddler’s language skills
by Tinita Kearney, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
As a wife, mother of two children under 2 and a business owner, I am all too familiar with just how busy each day can get! There are a million things to check off of the daily ‘To-Do’ list and not a million hours in which to do it all. But, like any parent, my children are always at the very top of my priority list, and this means that I am purposeful about finding creative ways to fit them into my hectic schedule. And since I just happen to also be a speech-language pathologist, this often takes the form of games and activities that are designed to build language and communication skills (in super fun ways!).
Mornings at my house are typically fast-paced and very routine. It’s very easy to get caught-up in the automaticity of it all in the effort to make sure that everyone gets out the door on-time. But morning routines are also a great way to get in regularly scheduled language-building practice. If you’re anything like me (and I’m betting you are), then preparing your children to achieve their very best is your ultimate goal as a parent. Growing their language and communication skills is the greatest way to set them on the road to success and this list of five quick and easy ways to use your morning routine to build these skills will help you navigate the way!
Sing Songs (or make them up!)
Songs are a great tool to help grow vocabulary and to teach basic concepts. Pair a song with a routine morning activity and feel free to get silly with it!
Try: Sing a ‘brushing teeth’ song during this part of your morning routine (e.g., “This is the way we brush our teeth, so early in the morning.”).
Tips & Tricks: Add words/lines to the song to teach specific vocabulary (e.g., “This is the way we brush our tongue”) and basic concepts (e.g., “This is the way we brush up top/on bottom”).
Tag Team Dressing
You’re probably already familiar with the growing independence of your toddler! Encourage this important development and also build language skills by getting your toddler involved in the dressing process.
Try: Play “I choose, you choose,” where your child gets to select one clothing item that they would like to wear for the day, and you select another until a complete outfit is created.
Tips & Tricks: Present your child with only 2 clothing item choices at a time to speed things up and keep your morning on track. Also, try giving your child 1 ‘silly’ option (e.g., a thick sweater as a choice in the middle of summer) and encourage your child to tell you why it’s a silly choice (e.g., Parent: “Is this sweater a good choice? No, it’s silly! It’s too hot outside! Tell daddy why this is silly.”).
Increase your little one’s vocabulary and expressive language skills by having them take a look in the mirror and describing what they see.
Try: After dressing, have your child stand in front of a mirror and describe 1 or 2 things that they are wearing. Introduce them to new vocabulary words when describing (e.g., colors, textures, patterns, shapes, materials, etc.) and encourage them to use these new words each day.
Tips & Tricks: Lay the foundation for more mature sentences and teach new vocabulary by restating and adding to what your child says (e.g., Child: “Ooh, pretty shirt!” Parent: “Yes, your polka dot shirt is pretty!”).
Assign a Job
One way to use your toddler’s “I-can-do-it-by-myself!” spirit is to assign a job that they can in fact complete by themselves, while simultaneously helping you to keep your morning routine running smoothly! This is also a good way to grow your toddler’s following directions and comprehension skills.
Try: Keep your child’s shoes in an easy-to-access area and instruct them to put on a specific pair each morning a few minutes before you’re ready to head out the door (e.g., “Go put on your red sneakers.”).
Tips & Tricks: Grow your child’s skills even more by giving a two-part instruction (e.g., “Go get your red sneakers and bring them to me.”).
The easiest way to build your tot’s language skills is to model good language yourself! You are their first (and best!) teacher, and how YOU communicate is how they will learn to communicate.
Try: Talk-out every action that you take involving your child throughout the morning (e.g., “It’s time to wash your face! Let’s get a washcloth and dip it in the water. Now we have to wring it out. Look at all that water coming out! Squeeze, squeeze, all done! Let’s wipe your face now. Ok, nice and clean!”).
Tips & Tricks: Talk-out your actions even when your child is half-asleep and you’re convinced that your play-by-play commentary is 100% useless — you’d be surprised how much actually gets through!
For more information, to connect with Dr. Tinita Kearney via social media, or to purchase a copy of LOLA THE KOALA, please visit:
- Learn more about how you can build your child’s language skills at www.lolakoala.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Tinita Kearney (Dr. T) is a speech pathologist who wants to empower kids and their parents by teaching foundational language skills in a way that is fun and interactive. With the first book in her new lift-the-flap Lola Koala Travel Adventures series, Dr. T and Lola Koala teach kids to answer WHO, WHAT, WHERE and YES/NO questions. Kids will be delighted and enchanted as they help Lola pack her suitcase and find clues to mystery destinations.
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Leslie Lindsayis the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) and former Mayo Clinic child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. She is at work on a memoir. Her writing has been published in Pithead Chapel, Common Ground Review, Cleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The Waking, Brave Voices Literary Magazine, Manifest-Station, and others. Her cover art was featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, other photography in Another Chicago Magazine (ACM) and Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal; poetry in the Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine; the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this fall. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.
- Facebook: LeslieLindsayWriter
- Twitter: @LeslieLindsay1
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @LeslieLindsay1
~UPDATED, 2nd EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA coming soon from WOODBINE HOUSE!~
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[Cover and author image courtesy of PRbytheBook and used with permission.]