Communication is such an essential part in our daily lives as human beings. Starting from the day we are born, our communication evolves as we grow to become well spoken adults. Spoken language is one form of communication, other forms of communication can be through written language, sign language and gestures. In today's post we will be focusing on spoken language and how important it is to promote your child's language development so he/she can communicate clearly and successfully with the world around him/her.
Here are a few tips on how to encourage the flourishing of your child's spoken and receptive language as a toddler:
1 - Talk to your child
Talk to your child as much as you can in a clear tone. He/she might not understand what you are saying yet but he/she is storing it all in his/her growing brain. Talk to him/her like they are someone who understands what you are saying.
2 - Describe and Narrate
While your child is accompanying you around the house, whether you are cooking he/she is in his/her high chair or just playing next to you, start narrating what you are doing ; like : "Mommy is cleaning the dishes", "Mommy is cooking baby's food", "Look! Mommy is throwing away baby's diaper!", Also, narrate what your baby is doing, like : " Oh wow, "baby 's name" is eating breakfast!", "Great job! baby is clapping"
3- Parallel Play and Narrate
So while you and your baby are playing, describe what you are doing and what you are playing with. Make different voices and funny faces so your baby can understand that it is a fun language enriched activity. Name the toys you are playing with and the action the you and your baby are doing. This will enrich your child's vocabulary and will make him/her be able to connect the spoken words to the actions accompanying them.
4 - Vocabulary enrichment
So in addition to all the narration being done, naming items that your baby is familiar with is very important; this will make your child have relationships of words and items in his mind. Focusing on categorizing is also very important; imitating animal sounds and showing pictures of animals for example will help your child understand the spoken and receptive connection between both, thus he/she will be able to store the category of animals.
5- Mirror your baby's words and sounds
Imitate what your child says, specially at ages 5 - 12 months, babble when he babbles as an encouragement. When he/she gets older, he/she will attempt to say words that will most probably be mispronounced first, praise him/her for it then model the correct word for him/her and have them attempt to repeat it again. Important tip : Don't encourage mispronunciations without giving them a correct model.
6 - Sing nursery rhymes
This will attract your child to learning new words in a fun way and will help them store them easily.
7 - Read read read
Reading to your child and having them try to flip the pages on their own will enhance their language development in a magnificent way. Reading will help increase the expressive and receptive vocabulary and will increase their view of the world.
8 - Enforce proper requests
To increase your child's utterance, encourage them to say longer utterances when requesting or asking for items. For example, if they want water and they say "water", repeat and model a longer request by saying " Oh so you want water?, Say, I want water mommy".
As a certified speech and language pathologist, encouraging my child's language is a very high priority and having him use all means to communicate is the most effective way for him to grow and thrive in terms of communication and language. These tips are all based on research that proved efficiency.
I hope you find these tips helpful, and remember our children are the future, so make sure you build an amazingly well spoken future generation!
Lama Farah, MSc SLP