Getting a toddler dressed is always fun, am I right? First, it is typically in the morning when we're all rushed. You've got this little wiggly person who needs clothes and they're singing, trying to play and you're trying to wrangle them into a shirt and pants. The next thing you know (at least at my house), you have a naked baby running through the house!
Why not work on speech and language in between chasing your naked kid around the house? Here are five easy ways to incorporate important concepts into your daily dressing routine!
1. Work on understanding (also known as comprehension) by asking your child to go get certain items of clothing.
Make sure his shirt, pants, socks and shoes are in an easy to find location then ask him to go get one item at a time. This teaches children that certain words match to various clothing items. You can make this more complex as your child develops into a preschooler: Please bring the one that keeps your arms warm.
2. Work on speaking (also known as expression) by letting your child verbally choose an piece of clothing to wear.
We all know toddlers and preschoolers thrive off of making their own decisions. The night before daycare, preschool or the next day, lay out 2-3 outfits for your child. Let them choose by stating "this one" or "the red shirt."
3. Work on understanding of location (also known as spatial comprehension) by talking about where clothing items are located in your home.
Are your child's pants stored in a drawer? Make sure you highlight IN and OUT as your remove the pants to put on your child. Are the child's shirts hanging in the closet? Make sure you highlight UP on the rack and IN/OUT as you select a shirt. Are your child's shoes by the front door? Make sure you highlight BESIDE or NEXT TO the front door when asking your child to find these items. For more learning opportunities (if you have extra time), you can hide the items (not too hard) around your home and give your child hints to find them.
4. Work on understanding of body parts (also known as comprehension) during dressing.
Dressing (and bathing-see post here) are great times to work on understanding of body parts. At younger ages, highlighting arms, legs, head, feet, hands, etc are great. As the child matures into an older toddler and preschooler, they can learn more complex body parts including knee, elbow, chest, ankles, wrists, etc.
5. Discuss seasons and weather.
As you're dressing in the morning and putting on various clothes depending on the season, talk to your child about what season it is, what the weather is like and why we wear certain types of clothing depending on the season. Your conversation can go something like this: Today it is going to be cold and it is raining. Let's put on this long-sleeved warmed shirt so you stay warm.
Working these five items into your daily dressing can improve your child's receptive and expressive language skills. They may even reduce your stress level in the morning-just kidding, only coffee can do that!