When life gets busy it can be hard to find time to work on your child’s early language skills, BUT you can enhance your child’s communication during everyday activities that you’re already doing! Here are some tips on how to facilitate communication during bath time.
- Being face-to-face with your child is important and bath time is an easy way to ensure you’re in this position when playing and talking
- Follow your child’s lead – talk about objects they are already interested in or are already playing with instead of trying to introduce a new toy or game
- Wait and pause to give your child a chance to communicate
- Use lots of single words or two word combinations (ex. Boat! Woo. Big boat!) This will help your child identify words and repeat them.
- Use a slower rate of speech and fun intonation to catch their attention
- Imitate the words, sounds, and actions your child makes
- This can be a great way to teach new words:
- Objects – hold bath toys up as you label them (ex. duck, boat, ball)
- Action words – say the word as you make the action (ex. make a toy SWIM, make a toy JUMP into the bath)
- Location words – example: the man goes IN the boat, the man goes OVER the boat, the man goes UNDER the boat
- Sing songs and rhymes! These provide a lot of repetition and make it easier for your child to predict familiar words and to join in. After they know the song you can pause and give them a chance to participate. Example: row, row, row your _____. Your child may respond with an expectant look, a sound, an action, a word…all are ways of communicating with you. Song ideas: row your boat, Patty-cake, this little piggy etc.
- Similarly to the songs – use simple repetitive routine games to give them a chance to participate. Example: bring a toy up while saying ‘up, up, up’ and drop it into the water as you say DOWN! Once they are used to this routine pause before you say down to give them a chance to respond and join in.
- Expand on your child’s utterances. For example: if they say “duck” you can say “yellow duck”!
- Give choices – do you want the boat or the bucket? Do you want the pink towel or the yellow towel?
Have fun and enjoy your time together! Bath time is a great time to bond with your child and teach them many important language development and play skills! Happy bath time!
Written by: Carla Montgomery, speech-language pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada