Speech therapists often talk about making activities “functional” and “relevant” to your child – especially when talking about you helping your child with therapy at home. But what does this mean exactly?
Everyday household tasks or chores can become prosperous therapy opportunities if you know how to utilize them. For this blog post, I’m going to show you how you can maximize your child’s learning during bathtime – an activity that can be quite stressful and even time consuming for many parents.
1. Target Their vocabulary
Put everything that you will need to make bathtime fun and stimulating (toys, soap, cloth, shampoo, towel, etc.). Make sure that they’re clearly visible and that your child can reach them. Ask them to name the objects and help them out when they have difficulty.
Don’t just stop at the objects. This is the perfect time to target your child’s vocabulary related to their body parts as well!
2. Name the Categories
You are using three main categories during bathtime:
- Body parts
- Cleaning products
Help your child understand this and then break it down further. Why not split the toys into groups based on their color or shape? Perhaps you could split the cleaning products into groups based on their smell or their texture. You could even split them into groups based on the names your child doesn’t know and the names they do know. This is the perfect time to get creative!
- “Let’s put all the green toys here.”
- “Can you tell me what these are on your hands?” (Point to their fingers).
- “Where can the shampoo go?”
3. Make Them Think
“What do you think we are going to do in the bathroom tonight?” Such a simple question is a wonderful opportunity for speech, language, and reasoning. If your child struggles help them step by step with prompts:
- “What do we do with soap?”
- “What do we do with shampoo?”
- “What do we do with bath toys?”
- “So, if we are going to use shampoo and soap and play with bath toys, what do you think we are going to do?”
4. Follow Directions
This is the perfect activity to target following directions while keeping your child engaged and having fun. You can start easy and slowly increase the difficulty:
- “Point to your toes.”
- “Point to your toes and your fingers.”
- “Get the soap and wash your hands and feet.”
- “Please get the soap and wash your hands and feet. Then, use the soap to clean Mr. Turtle’s shell.”
You could even get a bit more complicated and challenge your child with directions like:
- “Please pass me the animal that isn’t Mr. Turtle.”
- “Count all of your fingers except your thumbs.”
- “Please pass me the green Mr. Turtle and the small blue whale.”
5. Take Turns
No one likes to be told what to do throughout entire activities, especially when they’re not a fan of the activity to begin with. The truth is that kids love being able to “be the boss” too. You can take advantage of that fact by telling them it’s their turn to tell you what to do.
A little self-sabotage goes a long way with this technique, follow their direction incorrectly every now and then and ensure that they correct you. If their instruction doesn’t make sense, act very confused and tell them to correct their instruction, or help them along if they’re unable to.
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6. Make Sentences
Get your child to select one of the objects you’re working with and ask them to make a sentence using the name of the object:
- “I have ten toes.”
- “Mr. Turtle is green.”
- “I wash my body with soap.”
- “The small blue whale is my favorite.”
Don’t limit your child to just the names of the objects you are using. Give them different kinds of words that they need to use to make a sentence:
- “Bathtime is fun.”
- “I am playing in the bath.”
- “After I have my bath, I’m going to go to sleep.”
You could even take this one step further with an older child and give them two words that they must use in the same sentence:
- “I am washing my toes with soap.”
- “My favorite toy is Mr. Turtle.”
If your child has trouble making their own sentences, you can help them out by saying part of a sentence and asking them to complete it:
- “Toes are on your feet and fingers are on your … hands.”
- “I’m using the soap to … get clean.”
7. Repeating Sentences
One of the great things about activities with routines is that they tap into your child’s memory, which you can use to strengthen their skills.
During bathtime, you can instruct your child to listen carefully while you say something and then ask them to say it back to you word-for-word. Don’t forget that you can increase the length of your sentences to make it more difficult for your child if they are finding it too easy:
- “I am in the bath.”
- “I am in the bath and using soap.”
- “I am in the bath and using soap to wash.”
- “I am in the bath and using soap to wash my body.”
- “I am in the bath and using soap to wash my body because I am dirty.”
8. Target Reasoning and Social Awareness
Bathtime and similar activities are perfect for delving deeper into your conversations with your child. A simple routine like bathtime can make them think more broadly, and come to a variety of conclusions:
- “Should you be in the bath all by yourself? Why?”
- “What will happen if you don’t use soap to wash yourself?”
- “Do you think I will be cross if you poured all the water onto the floor? Why?”
We call these “teachable moments,” and they are great for overall development as well as speech and language learning.
9. Tell Each Other Stories
You can do this during or after the activity. Take turns in telling each other stories and then asking each other questions to test how well each of you listened and remembered the story. Help your child along with some prompts if they have trouble.
Get as creative as possible! The more new words you use, the better!
10. Recount What You Did
Once bathtime is over, sit down with your child and ask them to tell you what you did step-by-step, testing their memory, and recall. Prompt them when they cannot recall certain aspects, and even ask questions about what they’re telling you. You could also “play dumb” in some instances to get them to tell you what happened in more detail:
- “Wait, so did we wash your hair with soap or with shampoo?”
- “What did I say to you when you splashed water on the floor?”
If your child is older and of school-going age, you could take this one step further and ask them to write what happened and read it back to you.
Any activity can be used for speech therapy, and in combination with the Speech Blubs App, you and your child will be able to have fun while doing so.
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