Experts agree that sitting down together as a family at dinner time has many benefits, see more at the Family Dinner Project. Preparing the meal can offer a great chance to work on developing communication skills with your child, even a toddler. Whether your an accomplished chef or just reheating leftovers, the familiar location of the kitchen and the routine of putting a meal on the table make it the perfect opportunity to try these ideas,
Talk about what you’re doing in simple language (self-talk).
Don’t pepper your child with questions, but do bring her into the conversation by pausing and seeing if she responds or tunes into what you’re doing. This is a way for her to hear language paired with an activity. Here are some examples of what self-talk sounds like – remember, you’re not teaching, you’re just talking.
- First I’ll get out the chicken
- Brrr, the freezer is cold
- Where’s the knife? Here it is! In the drawer
- Hmmm, what vegetable should we have? I think broccoli. Good choice?
- I’d better turn on the oven. Careful, it’s hot!
Instead of yes/no questions, offer choices.
With choices, your child gets to hear the vocabulary and may use the word to answer, or he might just point – either way is fine – It’s about turn-taking and communicating, not about drilling vocabulary. Here are some examples of choice questions:
- Would you like broccoli or peas?
- What would mommy want to drink, milk or water?
- Should we use plates or bowls?