Picture of a girl running. Text reads "Why and how to use Verbal Routines".

Why & How to use Verbal Routines in Parent-Coaching

Verbal routines are a great language facilitation strategy to introduce in your parent-coaching sessions. They can be a powerful way to support young children to communicate and participate in activities. So it is really beneficial to coach parents and caregivers in how (and why!) to use verbal routines at home.

What are Verbal Routines?

Verbal routines are words and phrases that become predictable because you say them the same way, in the same activity, every time. Anything can become a verbal routine. 

Why should we use Verbal Routines in Early Intervention?

There are many positive reasons to use verbal routines in your parent-coaching sessions. 

  • They create opportunities for the child to participate in activities, using sounds, words, gestures, etc.
  • They are a natural way to work on receptive language as the words are associated with actions.
  • They provide opportunities for turn-taking.
  • They are predictable and help the child to know what to expect during an activity.

Top tips for using Verbal Routines

Verbal routines can be anything, so you can coach parents and caregivers to turn any phrase, during any play activity or daily routine into a verbal routine. Here are some top tips for using them in your parent-coaching sessions:

  • Say the same words, during the same activity each time you do it.
  • Keep the words simple and repetitive, to support language skills.
  • After you have said the phrase a few times, you can pause before finishing it, to give the child an opportunity to “fill in the blank” and complete the phrase.

Parent-coaching ideas for Verbal Routines

Image of a girl holding a yellow ball. Text reads "Ideas for using verbal routines in play". Examples include 'ready set go' when rolling balls, 'scoop.. scoop... pour' when playing with water, and singing nursery songs and rhymes.

You can use any phrase as a verbal routine. Some of my favourites to use in play are “ready… steady (or set)… go!” when rolling balls back and forth, or pushing cars down ramps, or playing chase! I also enjoy saying “scoop… scoop… POUR!” when playing with water and filling and emptying cups. Songs and rhymes are great verbal routines too. You can read more about using songs and rhymes to support early language skills in this blog post.

Image of two hands washing under a tap with running water. Text reads "Ideas for verbal routines in daily routines" Examples include "wash your hands... all clean" when washing hands, "it's bedtime, night night, love you" at bedtime, and "wipe wipe wipe... all clean" during diaper changes.

You can use a range of verbal routines during daily routines too.  Some of my favourites include “wash your hands… all clean” every time we wash hands, saying “it’s bedtime… night night, love you” as part of the bedtime routine, and “wipe, wipe, wipe… all clean!” during nappy (diaper) changes.   These repetitive phrases really help make activities predictable, so children know what to expect and what is expected of them.  It is so beneficial coaching parents and caregivers how to use verbal routines at home. 


Want more ideas for why and how to use Verbal Routines at home?

If you’re looking for more ideas for how to use verbal routines in parent-coaching sessions, check out my Early Intervention Handbook. The EI Handbook has ideas for how to use Verbal Routines with 30 toys, 21 daily routines, and 4 ‘out and about’ activities, so you’ll never be stuck for an idea again! Check it out in my TpT store here.
If you’re just wanting a few more ideas, grab my parent-friendly handout here: