Conversations that happen during home routines are an excellent opportunity to have fun while teaching new language to your child. By engaging your child in everyday conversations, you can show them how to use natural communication with listening first. Identify home routines that would be a good time for these language learning opportunities. For this example, we will use the activity of washing the car.
Keep in mind for all of these steps that children learn best when they can engage in the activity with you and have some fun!
Follow your child’s lead with whatever they are interested in about the car so that you can teach the language your child is interested in using. Talk about the parts of the car or cleaning products that they are touching and the actions they are doing.
Play around with the soap as you wash the car. Have fun by varying the speed of water gushing out of hose. Lather soap solution in water and blow the bubbles off your hands. Drop the sponge in the bucket to splash water. Scrub the lather on the car, and draw alphabets or shapes on the wet windshield.
Teach your child the functions of the different cleaning tools you are using, like the sponge, wash cloth, vacuum cleaner, scrapper, windshield wiper. Add an action word as you use each one, for example: “Here’s the sponge—it wash, wash, washes away the dirt,” or “Let’s use the vacuum cleaner—look how it suck, suck, sucks up all the dirt!”
Include thinking questions in your discussion and solve the problems together. For example, “The car seat has food crumbs on it—how will we clean them all up?” or “How do we dry the wet windows?”
Alert your child to different sounds and help them associate it with their source. For example the “vrooomm” of the car’s ignition, the beep patterns of remote key, the click of a seat belt, the honk of the horn, swish of the windscreen wiper.
Explore more complicated parts of the car to extend your child’s vocabulary. Talk about the wiper, hood, radiator, bumper, head and tail lights, wind shield, speedometer, dash board, air vent, clutch, gear and so on. Say the new words using the “auditory first” method, by saying: “This is a speedometer and it tells the driver how fast they are going,” and encourage your child to imitate the same. Use acoustic highlighting to draw attention to the new words.
Introduce qualitative words to extend the discussion. For example: “Scrub gently,” “Hurry up,” “The tires need more cleaning,” “The car is shiny!”
Encourage imitation of short phrases related to washing the car. For example, “Wipe it off!” “All done!” “Let’s get started!” If you are creative you can even make up a song: “This is the way we wash the car, wash the car, wash the car. This is the way we vacuum the car, vacuum the car, vacuum the car.”
Extend your child’s auditory memory with extended directions using longer phrases, such as: “Can you please get me the washcloth and the sponge” or “Let’s fix the hose and then fill the bucket with water.”
We hope you have fun teaching language to your child, and, enjoy having a nice clean car at the end of this activity!
This post was written by Janani Jeyaraman, MED-EL India’s Clinical Manager.