Now that your child’s schedule and behavior is more predictable take them out to eat! It’s a great way to practice first words and social skills. Yes at times it could be stressful, but for the most part it is a great learning experience about restaurant “etiquette” as well. It’s also great preparation for vacation since you cannot always eat in. Here are some opportunities for language learning!
Greetings – Have your child wave or say “Hi” and “Bye” to anyone who seats you and the waiters and waitresses.
Polite Markers – Have them practice the sign for “Thank you” or even saying an approximation of it. You verbally modeling polite makers is great too!
Asking for Help – Opening items and using utensils can often be difficult for toddlers, so it is a perfect opportunity to ask for assistance.
Using Utensils and Cups – At this age your child should try to be feeding themselves and learning to drink from a cup. Use physical prompting as needed.
Ordering and Labeling Food – If they’re up to it you can have them order food in 1-2 word phrases… they can always imitate what you say! If they do not order independently have them point at a picture of their desired breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When it arrives point and label each item.
Requesting toys – Many restaurants have items such as crayons to keep kids busy. Have your child request an item if possible.
Talk about Temperature, Taste, Color, Texture, and Smell – Comment on foods by using words such as “hot”, “cold”, “yummy”, “salty”, “sour”, “sweet”, “bumpy”, etc.
Practice Basic Conversation – Ask basic questions such as “Do you like it?” or “Do you want more?” to target answers such as “yes” or “more”.