Language is an important part of everyday communication. No matter your child’s age, whether they are an infant or ten years old, their language is continually developing. Encouraging language development with your child will be beneficial not only academically, but also cognitively. Even in our busy day-to-day, encouraging language development with your child is easy. In fact, finding opportunities to teach language skills can be found everywhere.
Some easy ways to encourage language with your child are:
Talk, talk, and talk some more – Children learn best from example. Modeling language and communication skills to your child will help them learn. By explaining everything you do, you are demonstrating how they can use language as a form of communication. You are also introducing them to new words and correct sentence structure. No matter how simple or small the task, talk it through by explaining everything you are doing and thinking.
Don’t correct mistakes – It is in our nature as parents to correct our children when they are wrong. Language and communication are no different. However, it is important not to criticize, which can cause your child to have low self-esteem and even avoid talking. Instead, repeat what your child said back to them, using proper speech. For example, if your child says “They no let me play”, repeat back “They won’t let you play?” You are demonstrating proper language and speech without being negative or overbearing.
Read often – There are so many reasons to make reading part of your daily routine. One of the biggest advantages is that reading introduces your child to new words and language, all while spending quality family time. It opens up their imagination, which will lead to better communication and language skills.
Follow your child’s lead – You will get more interaction from your child if it is a topic they are interested in. No matter the subject, show that you are interested in it as well, and encourage your child by asking questions and making your own observations, while listening to theirs.
Play with your child – The best encouragement for your child to use language is through interaction. Playing with your child helps provide that back and forth interaction. Play dolls, catch, or a turn-taking board game—it doesn’t matter, just as long as you keep the conversation going.
Sing – Most children love music, whether it is nursery rhymes or songs on the radio. Singing to—and making music with—your child introduces them to language and promotes self-expression with minimal effort. Perhaps the best part is that it can be done almost anywhere: At home, in the car, or walking through the grocery store.
Turn off the TV – TV is very passive and requires no interaction from your child. While there are many educational shows that introduce language and other skills, the lack of “back and forth” interaction and responses can actually hinder your child. They can also introduce or encourage improper speech patterns. For example, Elmo and Cookie Monster are popular characters on the educational show “Sesame Street”, but both talk in third person, which can confuse young children.
Sources: Parents.com | JanetLansbury.com | ASHA.org
Seven Steps for Better Language Skills: Encouraging Language With Your Child
Shandy Marso, Contributor