Ever feel like you’re running around trying to get every household chore completed in time before your little one wakes up from their nap? Or maybe you wait until your little angels go to bed to put that load of laundry in for the night, clean up the dishes, and take out the trash. Hold your rush. Deep breaths. There is a treasure trove of language learning to be had for your little darlings during these everyday activities. Start creating these “language routine” experiences with your child. It’ll change their life, and yours, too!

As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. As our children grow and develop, we get to experience this amazing, communicative transformation with them as they go from cooing to babbling to stringing words together to full blown talking! By talking and engaging with our children, they learn the steppingstones of how to interact and communicate with the world around them. That’s why It’s so important that we talk with our children, read with them, and engage with them in ways that make their life (and ours) richer from the moment they are born.

Read on to find out ways you can implement rich language into your children’s lives through mundane, daily routines! This is a sample from our home life!

Language Chore #1: Cleaning Up Toys

0-9 months: My little one would watch as I picked up toys/items and put them away. I would talk with him about what I was doing to clean up the toys/items (i.e. I’m picking up the fish and putting it in the bin.).

9-15 months: When my son was around 12 months old, he was able to help me put toys away by picking them up and putting them into bins. He was sitting up and crawling, but he wasn’t yet walking so I would place the bin near him so that I could help him put the toys away. This was also a great time to support his understanding of the concepts in and on. I would talk with him and give him the simple directive, “Let’s put the ball in this box” and “Let’s put the spoon on the table.”  Shortly thereafter, he was able to put toys in and take toys out of the container (although his favorite thing to do was dump the whole bin of toys over)!

15+ months: As my son began to walk (around 14-months-old), he could walk over to the toys and put them into the bins with my directives, support and encouragement. Around the age of two, he was able to independently help me clean up and often put my shoes in the closet for me (so adorable). On the weekends, we would clean up his toys together before we went on outings to build our “clean up” routine. To help him learn and develop his understanding of color, size and number concepts, I would embed the language skill into my directives (i.e. Put your big car into the red bin).

Language Concepts: in, on, clean, put, in, pick up, into, and size, color, and number concepts, and word endings such as plurals (i.e. toys) and present progressive -ing (picking, etc.).

Language Chore #2: Dishes

0-12 months: Washing dishes can be accomplished in a variety of ways. I hand wash some dishes, but I put most in the dishwasher. When my son was within this age range, he would watch me as I would explain to him what I was doing by saying, “I’m washing the dishes,” or “I’m putting the plate into the dishwasher.”

12-18 months: To help with my son’s fine motor skills and language skills, I would support him with putting a couple of spoons into the dishwasher’s utensil holder and tell him, “Now, we’re putting the spoons into the dishwasher.”

18 months+: My son loved to watch me put dirty dishes into the dishwasher and take clean dishes out of the dishwasher. Over time, he began to open and close the dishwasher door (with my supervision). When he opened or closed the dishwasher, I would say, “Great job! You closed the dishwasher door.” At some point, he became very interested in the silverware. I thought it would be great for him to sort the spoons and forks with my help. To help him identify between the two types of silverware I would say, “Put the spoon in here” (pointing to the spoon slot) and then, “Put the forks in here (pointing to the fork slot). Sometimes, he would put the spoons in with the forks, and vice versa. No big deal. I always thanked him for his help and put the spoon in the spoon slot without acknowledging anything. I wanted my toddler to enjoy the help he was giving, and I knew within time he would be sorting the silverware independently.

Language Concepts: into, put, wash, put in, take out, into, spoon, fork, plate, open, close, door, and size concepts, and word endings such as plurals (i.e. spoons),  and present progressive -ing (i.e. washing, putting, closing, etc.).

 Language Chore #3: Laundry

0-9 months: When my son was 4-6 months old, I would lay him down on his play gym and talk with him as I was folding laundry. I would tell him what I was doing with the laundry (i.e. Now, I’m going to fold the shirt.)

9-18 months: When my son was able to sit up and his fine motor skills were developing, I would hold him and talk to him while we put clothes in the washer (i.e. Now, we’re putting the pants in the washer). Once his skills further developed, he was able to drop clothes into the washer, push the button to start and stop the washer/dryer, open and close the lid, and carry clothes to put them into and take them out of the dryer (with my supervision). Of course, this was done with me holding him and supervising him during the task.

18+ months:  When my son arrived at the point where he could follow my directions, he became an amazing little helper. I wanted to support his understanding with following one-step directions (i.e. Please carry the empty basket to your room), two-step directions (i.e. Pick up your shirt and then get your shorts and put them in the hamper), learn basic concepts such as colors (i.e. Please get the green shirt), plurals (i.e. Please put the red socks in the basket), and categories of clothes (i.e. Please pick up all of your pants).  

Language Concepts: in, carry, put in, take out, pick up, fold, wash, dry, push, turn, open, close, and quantity concepts (i.e. all, empty, full, etc.), and word endings such as plurals (i.e. shorts), and present-progressive -ing (i.e. putting, going, etc.).

Important to note: A word of caution. These chore tasks are based on my experience with my child and what I was comfortable with allowing him to do with my supervision and support. I held my son while doing most of the laundry tasks due to safety, and I never left him unattended near the washer/dryer or dishwasher. I also only allowed him to handle the spoons and forks with my supervision.

Have another idea for a chore/routine that wasn’t mentioned? Feel free to add a comment below to continue the discussion!

Need a responsibility chart? Check out this blog post featuring this FREE All-In-One chore chart and video on how to use it! Click here to view the blog post to learn how to receive your FREE All-in-One Chore Chart!

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