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Using Routines to Build Language

Week 1: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat! Kid’s love doing the same thing over and over and over again. While it can frustrate or bore us as parents, it really does help kids learn! Children learn language through interaction and repetition. Our days with young children are often filled with repetition and familiar routines. Perhaps you have a set routine for bed times, or to get ready in the morning. These routines can provide great opportunities for interaction, repetition and language learning. By using the same language again and again in routines, we can help our children learn new words and phrases. Perhaps you can repeat a refrain of ‘toilet, teeth and bed’ each evening. Or repeat a cry of, ‘I’m coming to get you’ while playing a chasing game. Think through a typical day spent with your child, can you find ways to repeat your words in familiar patterns and routines?

Week 2: Start and End the Same Our little one’s love patterns and routines, is it helps them to feel safe and secure because they know what will happen next. So let’s use these routines to help them learn language too! Pick a fun activity such as racing cars. Instead of just zooming around the track, can you turn it into a routine? Start the routine the same way each time. Perhaps you could say “race time!”. Then show your child how to line up the cars and say “ready, set….GO!”. Finish the race with a cry of “I win!”’ or “you win!”. When the race is over, start the routine again with the same phrase “race time!”. By repeating these phrases, you’re giving your child the language they need for similar situations. Is there a game or routine you can add language to, to help your child learn a new phrase?

Week 3: Give Your Child a Turn If your child is loving a routine like “ready, set…GO!” or a chasing game, they might be ready to join in on the routine and take a turn. If you are starting your routine the same way each time and your child is familiar with what comes next, try pausing and looking at your child, cue them to finish the routine. If you’re playing racing games, say “ready…set…” then wait and look expectantly at your child. You might need to wait a while the first time! Accept a gesture or a word as them taking their turn and show them how excited you are that they joined in! How can you provide opportunities for your child to take a turn in a routine?

Week 4: People Games People games are games where children have to interact with their parents to keep the game going. They are great to use as routines for teaching language. This is because children learn language through conversation. Some great people games which can be used as language routines include, chasing games, bubbles and pat-a-cake. A game like cars or blocks, which your toddler may typically play on their own can become a people game if you only give them a few cars or blocks at a time. To turn a people game into a routine for learning language, just add some simple phrases and say them in the same places in the game each time. Are there any games your child loves which you could use to build language by adding a repetitive phrase?

Written by Bec Speech Pathologist Newcastle Speech Pathology

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