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 Since the Coronavirus outbreak began, hand washing is more important than ever for you and your family. There are some easy things you can say and do to encourage your child to grow his or her speech and language skills during this routine activity! 

Why We Wash

Your child may be more likely to cooperate with hand washing throughout the day if you have a discussion with him or her about why it’s important for us to wash our hands. The words you use to explain may be different depending on your child’s age. But in general, try to keep it simple by telling your child that our hands can get germs and washing them keeps them clean and our bodies nice and healthy! 

Picture This

Using a visual can help your child learn the steps involved in hand washing. Write or draw the steps on a piece of paper and hang in your child’s bathroom. Or, print a picture like the one below:

Talk out loud as you and your child wash your hands together. Use words that describe sequence or order, like “First”, “Then”, “Next”, and “Last”. Ask your child to tell you the steps back to check his or her understanding. 

Sing a Song

The CDC recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds. Singing a song while washing can help your child reach this amount of time, by keeping your child motivated and engaged. He or she may even start to sing the words the more they hear the song! Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or the ABC’s are good choices. You can also adapt the song “This is The Way” to washing hands (“This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands. This is the way we wash our hands, so early in the morning!”). 

Focus on FUN and Functional Words!

For younger children learning to talk, keep your language simple and focus on some fun words that they may enjoy imitating! Here are some examples: scrub, scrub!, swish, pat, pop, yay. Emphasize words that carry a lot of meaning, and would be helpful for your child to say in his or her daily life. For hand washing, those might be “on” and “off” as you turn the handles for the water. Other great words to focus on during a task like this are hands, wet, dry, start, dirty, clean, all done!

Stay safe, keep clean, and help your child learn language! 
Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP | Speech Pathologist
Proud Member of The Story Box Family