The concept is simple: while you are working around the house, in the yard, and yes, even while you are in public, speak your thoughts and actions out loud when you are near your infant, toddler or child.
Remember, you can use this technique while working WITH your child and when your child is NEARBY you in the same room. Fill the air with words!!
Below are some examples of common chores that can be used with this technique, but really, it can be used in any situation during the day, from brushing your hair, to writing a check, to making a bed! I have written out some examples of how I might sound if I was speaking my thought process out loud while I was working with/near my child:
“I am going to make some waffles this morning! Doesn’t that sound delicious? First, I need to get my recipe book out and find page 23. This is my favorite recipe to use for waffles. Now I gather my ingredients. Let’s see...we need 2 eggs, flour and baking soda first. The eggs are in the fridge, here. The flour is in the canister on the counter, here, and the baking soda is up in my cupboard. Oh I have to reach so high to get that baking soda! Now let’s get ready to measure! I have my measuring cups right here, but I need to choose just the right one. I need to look at the numbers to find the right cup to use...”
Bathing a Baby or Child
“Are you ready for bath time? I sure am! We are going to get you so soft and clean! Let’s take your pajamas off by undoing the snaps. One, two three, four, five. There you go! Now we gently take each of your arms out of the sleeves. Now we get to see those cute toes of yours as we pop your little feet out of the footsies! Look! You are ready to get into the warm water! There, I have you, I am holding on to your hands so I won’t let you fall. I’m holding you and I’m going to dip the rag into the water and rub your little tummy. Round and around, one, two three. Now I dip the rag again and let’s wash each of your toes. Oooh, look at those bubbles! They are little and white and they pop if we touch them….”
“Let’s look at our list and find all of the foods that we need. What is the first food on our list? Bananas. Do you see bananas? They are yellow and come in a bunch. Yes! There they are! I need 6 bananas, so let’s find a bunch that has the right number. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. This bunch has seven, but you like bananas, so one extra will be perfect for you! Now we need strawberries. Strawberries are red with green on top. They are little and taste sweet. I see them! Let’s choose a box of strawberries. How many do you think are in that box? Shampoo is next on our list. We need shampoo to keep our hair clean. But do you think shampoo is with the food? No! We don’t eat shampoo so we need to go to the other side of the store where they keep the soap and things that we do not eat….”
1. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to speak your thought process out loud! The more you speak out loud, the more words your baby or child hears and learns.
2. It takes practice. Oftentimes, I would find myself alone with my newborn in my quiet house, and I would realize that I had not spoken out loud all day! Go ahead and speak your thoughts out loud, even sing your favorite songs!
3. As your child grows, involve them in your work as you speak the steps out loud. As you bake, have them find the measuring cups, as you grocery shop, ask them to find items that you need, as you fold the laundry, have them copy your movements as you explain how to fold (for example, “I make it smooth on the floor, then I take one corner and pull it down to match it with the other corner…”)
4. Ask questions! If you child can speak, ask them questions as you work and help them engage in conversation. If your child is not able to speak yet, still ask your questions out loud, but them answer them yourself (for example, “Where should we hang this new picture? I know! In the living room, next to the couch!”)
5. Research clearly shows that children who were exposed to significant verbal communication as infants and toddlers have higher success in school. You are laying an important foundation for their future! One of the most common ways that doctors and governments work to raise children out of poverty is to simply increase their exposure to words and verbal communication. You can do this in your home, at absolutely no cost, every day from the day your child is born!