It’s never too early to start learning about chores and how to help out in the house!Now that your child is getting better at following directions feel free to intertwine basic “chores” into the daily routine.
It could be as simple as cleaning up. From an early age we started the clean up song even when he did not speak just so he got used to the melody and words. At this point you can sing it along with them and see if they hum along or imitate any of the words. Just hearing the song will trigger cleaning up after playtime or even mealtime. Once they get used to the routine they will begin cleaning up on their own, sometimes even singing the song all by themselves!
Specific directions you can give is “Give me your cup/plate/fork and let’s put it in the sink” (they most likely cannot reach yet even with a step stool, but it’s good to practice), “Put your ____ in the dishwasher”, “Throw it in the garbage”, “Go get me a paper towel”, “Put your socks away” (or any clothing), “Walk the dog”, etc. We even found working on colors while doing laundry is an excellent receptive language task (e.g. – dark vs. light or putting all the red socks together).
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A great way to achieve 2-3 word phrases is to learn words other than nouns. This can include prepositions, adjectives, etc. This week we will talk specifically about using size descriptor words to expand phrases.
The first step as always is modeling what you want your child to say. In terms of size, “big” always seems to stand out. Try to find huge items in the home or outside such as big chair, big slide, etc. to comment on. A tip is to also make a big deal about it in order to emphasize it – “Wow look that’s a big moon!”. They may initially imitate the word “big”, so keep adding onto that word by verbally modeling such as “Yes it’s a big step”, “You’re right that’s a big orange”, etc.
Once they get the hang of that you can target the opposite “small”. We like to target this by starting with a big piece of fruit and cutting it up into smaller pieces to show them the difference. It’s a great activity to do with play dough as well! And feel free to use synonyms such as “tiny” when you’re teaching size. Other size concepts later on could be short vs. tall, wide vs. narrow, etc.
We recently did a post about building phrases with “me” and “mine” such as “my shoes”. Your child is very observant and he or she is beginning to know what specific items belong to certain people. Often many of us are (unfortunately) attached to our phone these days so a common phrase you may hear is “Mommy phone”. The more they see us with an item the more they will associate it with us.
We like to start off with clothing since a jacket, for example, is something we wear every day in the fall/winter. They may be imitating or spontaneously saying “jacket” or “coat”, but you can now begin modeling possession such as “mommy coat”. Other things to target could be toys or other personal items. For instance, you could choose something that belongs to them such as “Roman’s dinosaur”. They may not say the ‘s part quite yet, but just to get them thinking about WHO it belongs to is a big step.
These techniques have also been helpful with behavior. Let’s say your child is trying to rip the papers of a magazine that you are reading. To put an end to this behavior, you can say “This is Mommy’s magazine and this is Roman’s book… we read magazines and books”. The more you use the same language, the more likely they will catch on, listen, and say it back!
As parents, we of course don’t love when a major spill happens or when our child is crying because they can’t get something out! However, these situations often lead to lots of spontaneous language! For instance, if water spills your child may say “Uh oh wet!”.
During our speech therapy sessions, we love creating “uh oh” situations on purpose. For instance, we may build a tower and then intentionally make it fall to see what the child says. Or we may put a desired item in a jar, close the lid really tightly, and hand it to the child. This gives them an opportunity to ask for “help” or perhaps use a descriptive word like “stuck”. We advise parents to take a look at their day and think of a few instances where they can cause a structured “uh oh” whether it be during mealtime, bath time, or playtime. It could be as simple as making an item fall down from the high chair and modeling “fall down”. And if things happen naturally take it as an opportunity to model the appropriate language.
And great news – we have an “Uh Oh” iBook coming out soon, which will show videos of “things going wrong” to encourage commenting. Be on the lookout!