Information brought to you by Jill Hawks, Speech-language pathologist. Cited Source:
Encouraging language development at home
Who can do it?
*Anyone can help children learn language. Older siblings can often be the great teachers to help encourage younger siblings to talk.
When do we do it?
*Routines lend themselves nicely to encouraging language development because they occur every day or weekly.
*Mealtimes, bathtime, bedtime, outside time, getting dressed, doing the laundry.
Where do we do it?
*Anywhere. Home, daycare, in the car, grocery store. Anywhere your child goes, you can talk while you are there.
*Talking about what is happening while shopping at the grocery store gives your child visual information along with the specific words you say. You can also introduce and repeat early concepts such as items on a shelf that are "High" or "low," "Heavy" or "light." You can also repeat simple concepts such as putting potatoes in a bag (In, in, in) or counting (one potato, two potatoes, three…etc) or talk about how certain foods look the same and how they look different (This one is bumpy, this one is smooth!)
What can we do?
*Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing. Keep it natural and simple. Use 2-5 words for children under 3 and longer sentences for older children.
*Repeat, repeat, repeat. The more a child hears a word that is associated with their favorite objects/actions, the more they will be ready to use that word later on.
*Use a variety of words to label objects (Ball, blocks, blanket, cup), verbs (up, down, go), description words (blue, big, little, red, small) and concepts (in, out, on, off).
*Offer choices using specific words (Do you want your red shirt or your blue shirt? Do you want juice or milk? Do you want to take a bath first or read a book first before bedtime?)- helps give them some independence/control while hearing specific vocabulary.
*Show your child what you are talking about. When possible, use the actual object or action to show the child what your word is/means. Visual information helps children learn new language.
*Repeat back what your child says: Repeat back what he/she says using more information or the way you might expect to hear it. For example: if you child says "Mommy home!" You can say: "Yes, Mommy is home!" or if you child says "Him go outside," you can say, "Yes, he is going outside!"
*Keep it fun! When children play and have fun, they learn!
Ideas for home:
*Books- if your child is young and does not have the attention to last an entire book, label pictures and move from page to page. When his/her interest starts to wander/move, you can say "The end" even if the book is not finished. As your child gets older, you can read more of the words or make up your own story about the book. Encourage your child to participate, especially during favorite books that have been read a lot. Ask them to "Point to" or "Show me" certain pictures/people in the book. IF they have the vocabulary, ask them to tell you what they see.
*Bubbles- for little ones (under 2), you can practice words like "Pop!" "More!" "Bubble" "Blow" "All gone" For older children you can practice taking turns blowing bubbles using "My turn"requesting, "Blow bubbles," concepts "Big bubbles," "Little bubbles," "Fast bubbles," or "Slow bubbles."
*Pots/Pans/kitchen utensils: For little ones, they may like just banging on the pots and pans with spoons or dropping things in the pots/pans and taking them out. For older children you can start to pretend to cook with pots and pans- vocabulary: In, out, on, off, stir, pour, hot, cold, cook, bake. Muffin tins give children 6-12 opportunities to hear a word or repeat a word- put objects into each cup and take them out. Work on "in, out, on, off" as well as specific vocabulary of objects you are putting in each tin.
*Recipes: May be best for children that are older- can work on specific vocabulary of ingredients using a lot of descriptor words (this is cocoa powder. It's dark brown, it looks like chocolate, but it tastes bitter), sequencing (first we put in the butter, next we add eggs, etc). May be combined with pots/pans play.
*Playdoh/cookie cutters: You can make playdoh at home (combine this activity with recipe play) and/or use store-bought. Cookie cutters can make playdoh fun by cutting shapes and talking about what you are making or how to make it. Talk about what color the playdoh is. Give your child small pieces of playdoh to work with to give them an opportunity to ask for more.
*Recycleables: Although toys with lots of lights/sounds/buttons can be fun to entertain our children, keep in mind it is not necessary to buy children toys for them to learn. Think about empty containers you may put into recycling or throw away. After you clean it out, it can become a container to put objects in and out of, or a paper towel tube can become binoculars to play "I Spy" or a tunnel for cars to drive through.