Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10 Ways to Promote Language Development in Children

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We drive around town quite frequently as we run errands or pick up Pip and her friends from school.  This can sometimes make for boredom for Bear in the backseat.  Something that we often do is backseat storytelling.  I start a story based on what I see and  Bear finishes my sentence and adds anything to it he feels necessary. 

Me: "That car is driving fast.  he is going to ________.  "
Bear: "He's going to the store to buy some cheesecake." 
Me: "He's going to take the cheesecake to the fire station so ___"
Bear: "So the firefighters get dessert for eating all of their dinner."

You get the idea.... 

One of the greatest influences on how much and in what ways children talk is through the interactions they have with people in their environment.  Here are some other ways to support your child's developing language skills

For Infants/Toddlers:
  • Say the name or describe what is seen in the surroundings.  Examples: "look at the red ball" or "ooh... a soft puppy"
  • Talk to your child normally.  Avoid baby talk.
  • Don't be afraid to use baby sign.  Using simple signs such as "milk", "please" and "more" can provide nonverbal infants/toddlers with the ability to communicate, which lessens frustrations.  After the sign is made, supply words to go along with it.  "You want more crackers?  Here you go."
  • Read books to your child. Provide books for them to explore. Babies will likely chew on board books, toddlers will likely tear pages. That's par for the course.

     For Preschoolers:
  • Use simple, direct language.  Remember that some analogies (it's raining cats and dogs) can be confusing to children.
  • Restate the child's statement. don't correct or criticize.  If kiddo says, "I just kicked-did the ball!"  You needn't point out their error, just restate correctly.  "Yes, I saw you kicked the ball."
  • Support early reading/writing attempts.  Scribbles on a piece of paper may not mean anything to you, but to your preschooler they represent the idea that the lines and curves on paper are words
  • Books, books, books.  Read them to your child. Let them look through them on their own.  You can even look through them together and allow your child to narrate the story based on the pictures. 
  • Don't question.  After seeing the above mentioned scribbles, a first response shouldn't be "what is it?"  Instead, ask the child to tell you about what they wrote.  This will validate their effort
  • If you don't mind them scattered around your home or classroom, you can label items such as chairs, doors, windows, etc with index cards or sticky notes. 

If nothing else, remember these these 3 tips:
  • Each child is different... don't compare them to others. 
  • Be supportive of any communication attempts.
  • Remember that you are your child's greatest teacher.

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Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.
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