Why Practice During Mealtime?
Mealtime is a natural part of the day and a perfect time to practice speech and language skills with your child. Mealtime provides a regular routine which allows for consistent, repetitive, and multiple opportunities for using the same language prompts. Even just picking one meal of the week to focus on speech and language skills is helpful.
Practice While Cooking Together
- Cooking together provides opportunities to practice motor, cognitive, and speech skills. Narrate each step with simple language.
- Give your child a job to do, such as putting the plates on the table or finding the requested items in the refrigerator.
- Start with one step directions and work up to two step directions.
- Label your actions and the activities with words in order to model vocabulary. For example: mix, stir, bake, fry, sizzle, crumble, half, divide, measure, pour, cut, peel, melt, boil, etc.
Practice While Setting the Table
- Identify which dishes or utensils are needed. Ask your child to name, locate, and gather all of the items for the table.
- Count out how many of each item are needed.
- If working on articulation, be sure to highlight the items which contain the targeted speech sounds.
- Ask and answer wh- questions, such as “Where do we put the forks?”
- Encourage the use of prepositional phrases, such as “next to the plate” or “on top of the napkin.”
- Conversations around the table are a great opportunity to practice speaking and listening. Give your child the opportunity to ask and answer questions, as well as watch and listen to your conversations with others.
- Demonstrate how to take turns, wait for your turn, and lead the conversation.
- Ask your child whose turn it is – this prompts the child to use phrases, such as “my turn,” “your turn,” or “mom/dad’s turn.”
- Learning to sit and listen is an important step in communication development.
- Some children may find it hard to just stop and sit with family, but mealtimes naturally provide the structure for sitting and listening.
- Other family members can provide a model of appropriate ways to sit. Verbally acknowledge how others are sitting still.
- Use a timer to help show your child how long they need to sit for the meal. Offer rewards and praise for good sitting and listening.
At CPT, we provide one-on-one therapy services specifically designed to your child’s needs. If your child is a picky eater, has food texture aversion or finds mealtime challenging, we are here to help. To learn more about our therapy options do not hesitate to reach out to our team. Our services are available in the Fairfield, Westport, and Wallingford, CT areas.