As Early Intervention therapists, we know there are huge benefits to coaching parents and caregivers to use language facilitation strategies during daily routines. But we also know that children learn through play too. So I like to encourage playfulness during daily routines, as a way to maximise on the benefits of both!
Benefits of coaching parents during daily routines
There are many benefits to coaching parents and caregivers to embed skills and language facilitation strategies during daily routines. Firstly, it addresses the child’s needs in a naturalistic environment. Home is where a child typically spends most of their time, so embedding skills in their routines has a positive impact on their development.
Coaching in routines also improves carryover at home, as parents/caregivers know how to use skills and strategies when the therapist isn’t there, without adding additional tasks onto their already busy schedules! Coaching through daily routines also helps to increase communicative opportunities for the child. And it increases the child’s participation in daily routines at home, so the language and skills targeted are more relevant and meaningful for them (Crawford and Weber, 2014).
For more information and ideas for coaching parents and caregivers during daily routines, check out the Early Intervention Handbook.
Why encourage parents to be playful during daily routines?
Quite simply- Family life is busy. Often families can end up just “going through the motions” with their daily activities, through no fault of their own. When you encourage parents and caregivers to be more playful during their daily routines, you help to bring more engagement and enjoyment into these routine activities, which in turn supports the child’s language and communication development. It is also a great way to show parents and caregivers that children don’t need tonnes of toys in order to play and have fun at home.
5 ways to encourage playfulness during daily routines
- Diaper (nappy) changes- Play peek-a-boo during nappy/diaper changes. Cover your face with your hands, wipes, or their clothes. Provide opportunities for the child to imitate you.
- Bath time- Water is always fun and entertaining for little ones! You can add a range of toys to the bath and (depending on the types of toys) you can encourage the child to wash them, make them swim, make them splash, scoop, pour, etc. If the child doesn’t have toys that can go in the bath, you can fill up and pour or squirt empty bottles.
- Washing dishes- After washing the dishes, refill the sink and let the child play in the water. Add some soap and a sponge. Give them child-safe items to wash and play with, such as any plastic cups or plates, their cutlery, a breadboard, etc. Encourage them to play in the water. You can imitate their actions and join in with their play.
- Cleaning/tidying- Make tidying up a fun activity by encouraging the child to throw/roll/slide toys across the room and into the toy basket. Make it a challenge to see how many they can get into the basket. Be animated and excited while playing and cheer when they get them into the basket. You could also have a race to see who can tidy up the fastest.
- Doing laundry- Put the child inside the laundry basket and push it around the room. You can vary the speed that you push/pull them and vary the “quality” of the ride. For example, making it gently rock or sway as you push them. Before you push them you can say “ready…steady(set)….” and pause before saying ‘go’ to see if they will say it. You can also encourage the child to put their toys in the basket and push those around the room too.
If you like the idea of making daily routines more playful, be sure to check out the Early Intervention Handbook for over 200 play ideas for both toys and daily routines.
I hope this post has given you some fresh ideas for how you can encourage playfulness in your daily routines and parent-coaching sessions. If you have other ideas, share them in the comments below!
Ref: Crawford, M.J., and Weber, B. (2014). Early Intervention Every Day: Embedding Activities in Daily Routines for Young Children and Their Families. Paul H Brookes Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD.