Bath time Activities for Language Development
Developing early language skills is a task that can be incorporated into your everyday routine with your kiddo! There’s no need to designate structured language therapy practice with your toddler. One routine activity that is great for developing language is bathtime! Why is it a great time to work on language skills? Because it’s warm, relaxing and providing sensory input for your little one. When receiving sensory input, our bodies are in an optimal learning zone and focus is improved. Here are some ways to incorporate language into bath time with your little one:
Joint attention is the shared attention or focus of two individuals on the same object. Shared focus helps individuals communicate and develop necessary social skills. To help your child engage in joint attention, lead by example. Use gestures such as pointing while talking about an object (bath toys, bubbles, water, shampoo, soap). You can also follow your child’s lead, be interested and attend to something they are playing with or are showing interested in. Practicing joint attention during daily routines in the child's natural environment, such as bathtime, can improve communication and social skills in other environments including school, home and the community.
Learn our body parts! This is simple. Start by labeling what body parts you are washing, ie. “We are washing your arms.”. Next you can have your child identify their own body parts by asking them to show you, ie. “It’s time to wash your foot, show me your foot!”then tickle their foot, make it fun! Take turns washing body parts and give them choices such as “Your turn to wash your tummy!”, “What should we wash next, your hair or your back?”
Bathtime is a good time for children to learn imitation skills. Imitation skills are a crucial component of language development. Teaching your child to imitate you can be natural and fun- splash the water, make silly faces, stack cups, pour water from one cup to another, blow bubbles. Encouraging imitation can be as simple as being face to face with your little one and maintaining eye contact, imitating your child’s actions, copying their sounds by babbling back at them, copying their facial expressions and getting silly by making animal sounds or other funny sounds.
Teach following direction skills. This is also simple because you are probably already giving simple directions during this time. Let’s keep these directions short with not too many unnecessary words, ie “Get in the tub.”, “Put your arms up!”. Only use one step directions to start, then move to two step directions. Make sure your kiddo can see you when giving directions, use gestures and sign language when necessary. Always remember to give your child time to process what is being asked of them. If they are not following, repeat your directions or assist them by using hand over hand help. If this becomes difficult, move on to something else before it turns into a struggle and makes bathtime aversive.
Start or end bathtime with a favorite song or book. Any book will work, but reading a book about bath time can help reinforce all the vocabulary you are teaching and learning. Songs are a great way to encourage and teach new skills including some of the ones stated above- following directions, learning body parts, basic concepts and new vocabulary!
-Cassandra Schneller, M.A. CCC-SLP