Language and communication skills include the ability to understand others and express oneself using words, gestures or facial expressions.
Language development is most prolific during the first years of life as children’s brains are developing rapidly. This is an important time to expose children to learning new words as often as possible.
The following are simple activities you can do daily with your children to help encourage their speech and language skills.
– Conversations: follow your child’s lead, respond with interest to anything that has caught their interest, and try to have the conversation go back and forth at least five times. The more conversations children have, the more talking practice and information they have to build their language skills.
–Talk about experiences: prompting your child to describe something they have done, seen, or heard about. Use comments and questions to encourage them to recount the order of events.
– Enjoy simple free outings: talk about what is going to happen, take photos and make a photo book so children can retell their experience.
– Children’s songs and rhymes: tune your child’s ear to the sounds, rhythm, rhyme and patterns of language, enrich children’s vocabulary, and encourage fun and nonsense use of words.
– Dress-ups and role play: children gain confidence to speak in acting out during roleplay; they can copy the language of others and act out scenarios. Pretending and joining in with your child will help to keep the conversation going.
– Puppets: children learn to express their feeling and invent dialogue and conversations with other puppets. They can make up and act out stories, practicing story words and voices.
– Talk about things: beyond just the here and now to help children learn to understand and use that kind of language themselves. Talk about their feelings, how someone else might be feeling in a certain situation, explain the reason for an event in the story, predict what might happen next, think about what they would think, feel or do in a situation they haven’t experienced. Match your level of language to just ahead of your child’s level of language, for e.g. simple questions and 3-4 words per sentence for a child only talking in 1-2 word sentences; longer sentences and more thinking and reasoning questions are great for a child using longer utterances and asking questions themselves.
– Simple board games: children learn to follow instructions, move in a set direction, sequence ideas or predict outcomes, they also tend to naturally prompt interaction and conversations.
As you can see, talking is extremely important! Help your child learn as many words as possible through the easy ways we’ve listed above.
If you enjoyed this, then you might be interested in reading our tips on Encouraging Early Literacy in Little Ones.