YOU Are Your Child's Best Teacher
The early years are a time of incredible discovery and growth, especially in language development. As a parent, there are so many things you can do to influence and encourage your child's language learning journey. Below are ten effective tips designed to foster and amplify your little one’s language skills during these crucial early years.
These strategies are not meant to add extra "work" to your never-ending to-do list (because trust me, I have one too), but are meant to teach you little things you can do throughout your day to enhance your child's growth. The more you implement these strategies, the more they will become second nature, and you won't even realize how much value you're adding to your child's world!
10 Strategies to Enhance Language Development:
Conversational Engagement: Engage in conversations with your toddler regularly. Pause for their responses, even if they're not speaking, and maintain attentive body language (eye contact, facing the child, etc.) to show you are available and interested.
Expand on Their Words: When your toddler attempts to communicate, expand on their words or sentences. For instance, if they say "ball," you can respond with “little ball” “red ball” or “yes, I have a ball!” Always add on at least one extra word to what your child says when you respond to them!
Narrate Daily Activities: Narrate your day-to-day activities aloud. Describe what you're doing, name objects, and talk about the actions you're performing. This constant exposure helps build vocabulary.
Read, Read, Read! Make reading a cherished routine. Choose colorful, engaging books, and read aloud with animated expressions. Encourage pointing to pictures.
Sing and Rhyme Together: Nursery rhymes, songs, and fingerplays are fantastic for language development. Encourage your toddler to join in, and repeat favorite songs often. Bonus points for using songs that have gestures associated with them (think Wheels on the Bus)!
Labeling Objects and Actions: Label objects around the house, like furniture or toys, to reinforce vocabulary. Also, name actions and emotions, enhancing their understanding of the world.
Follow Your Child's Lead: Pay attention to your child's interests and engage in conversations or activities based on their preferences. Be an active participant in your child’s play. Let them lead the activity and you just follow along for the ride, you can take this opportunity to narrate things that are happening during play (e.g., the train is going up the hill. It’s so fast! Oh no, the train crashed!).
Use Gestures and Sign Language: Incorporate gestures and simple sign language to accompany words. This aids in communication and reinforces language understanding. Early sign language can also bridge the gap between when your child knows what they want to communicate but is unable to do so verbally (e.g., signing “milk” when not yet able to verbally say “milk”).
Encourage Social Interactions: Okay, I’ll be honest… as a mom of two, with a full time job, and a to-do list 8 miles long, this one is tough. But, it’s really important! So, try to make it a priority to arrange playdates or social activities where your toddler can interact with peers. Think outside the box! For example, we use our local gym’s “child watch” center as an opportunity for our son to interact with peers a couple of times a week.
Limit Screen Time, Increase Interaction: Limit screen exposure and encourage real-life interactions. Engage in activities where your toddler can communicate face-to-face, fostering language growth. Screen time is hard to avoid entirely, try to be selective about what your child does watch and do when interacting with screens!
Every Interaction is An Opportunity!
These simple yet impactful tips are designed to create a language-rich environment that nurtures your child’s language skills! Remember, every interaction is an opportunity for language learning. Your child is always watching, listening, and learning. Use your daily routines and activities to engage with your child and implement these strategies to help enhance your
Embrace the process, dive in and encourage these stages of development, and celebrate your child's milestones (no matter how big or small)!