As a speech language pathologist (and a mom) I rely heavily on developing routines. I fully recognize that developing routines teaches new skills and allows for consistent practice of skills. Establishing routines like getting dressed, mealtime, and bath time help me stay (relatively) on schedule during hectic days and gives my kids a sense of structure and stability. An added benefit to teaching and establishing routines is that they also help develop and reinforce language. If you are looking for ideas on ways to teach routines there are lots of examples on Pinterest. You can also download printable visual routine charts like the one pictured below from Priceless Parenting.
Your child has probably learned a number of routines by the age of 2. One parent of a child I see for therapy told me that when she says “bedtime,” her son walks to the refrigerator because he knows the next step is to get a cup of milk. When I announce “bath time” to my toddler, she squeals with excitement and runs to her dresser. She knows that Mommy gets the pjs from the dresser and then we walk to the bathroom and run her bath water. Whatever your routines may be, you can help support and enhance your child’s language skills by labeling each step in the routine and all of the objects needed to complete the task. You can also teach the importance of doing things in order and introduce time concepts like “first,” “second,” “next,” and “last.”
An added benefit to having established routines is that parents can violate the routine. When adults make mistakes, kids LOVE to point it out! Children often try to correct the error by explaining what’s wrong. Not only is this motivating, but it also allows opportunities to practice language skills and problem solving.
Put a cup away in the silverware drawer. Use toothpaste to wash his/ her hair. Forget to provide a spoon when you place his/ her cereal on the table in the morning. The opportunities to “make mistakes” are endless. The goal is to help your child recognize a violation in the normal routine and to talk to you about how to fix it. Give it a try and tell me about your experience below. I love to receive feedback!