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Tips To Build Language in Everyday Situations
Part 1: Talking at the Grocery Store
With today’s busy schedules, it is not always possible to set aside time each day to work on your child’s communication skills. Luckily, communication is part of everything we do and it is easy to incorporate strategies to build your child’s language skills into many of our routine activities. Not only will your child benefit from the extra stimulation, it will also turn these ordinary tasks into something fun for you and your child.
One of the more mundane and frequently recurring tasks for parents is grocery shopping. The good news is that a visit to the grocery store is a great way to teach language and communication. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- The child’s seat in the grocery cart is the perfect spot to place your child to facilitate face to face interactions. You child has a good view of your face and all the items in the store.
- For younger children, you can organize the food products into descriptive types and begin to talk about concepts such as colours, shapes and sizes.
- As children get more confident with vocabulary, you can introduce topics such as categorization (i.e. fruits, veggies, meat) or counting and quantity concepts (more, less, bigger, smaller). Also talk about tastes and textures which will be good practice for using language to describe things that are not concrete.
- Let your child participate. Give them items to find. This is a good opportunity to practice listening and following directions as well as being fun for your child. As your child gets better at following directions you can give them multiple items to find at a time (multi-step directions) or use more complex language structures such as “before you get the apples, get the carrots.”
- Try turning directions into a fun riddle game which will support inferencing and problem solving skills. For example “We are looking for a vegetable that is orange and that rabbits love to eat”. Let your child have a turn giving you the “riddle”.
- Encourage your child to be involved when possible. Let them make choices where you can. Ask them: “Do you want oatmeal or granola this week?” You might want to avoid open-ended questions such as: “What type of cereal do you want?” unless you are prepared to bring home something sugary. As children get older you can talk about why they made a choice and what they like about the cereal.