Parents worry about their children, because it’s their job! Many parents worry most, about their toddler’s language development.
If your child is not in school yet, you may be unsure how they compare to other children their age. How can you be sure they are hitting their milestones?
The good news is you don’t need parenting classes or textbooks to study up on language development.
This one trick will make a difference in your toddler’s language. I guarantee you will notice a difference, quite rapidly.
Expressive & Receptive Language
Talking to your child, singing songs and playing word games with children, all help to increase their language development. Children improve their receptive language (listening & understanding) by hearing you speak. Children develop their own expressive language by telling you their needs, wants and their favorite word NO! Hopefully Please and Thank You aren’t too far behind.
The more you talk to and with your child, the more you are helping to develop their speaking and listening skills. Whether your child goes to preschool from a young age or starts school in kindergarten, the best preparation you can give them is confidence. The more skills, experiences and language your child has, the more confident they will be as learners.
The BEST Trick of all!
You are already talking to your child throughout the day, but does he know it? Your child hears you talking, but is he/she tuned in to what you are saying? The easy trick to make sure your child knows you are talking to them, is simply using their name! By directing comments and questions to your child and using their name, it cues them to listen. It also prompts them to answer you back!
When you invite your toddler into a conversation by name, it prompts them to pay attention. Rather than, “time for lunch” be more specific with the words you choose. Emma, it’s time to eat some apples and yogurt for lunch today. By adding more words and detail to your speaking you are building your child’s vocabulary.
Take that lunch language a step further and introduce math skills: Emma, how many apples do you have today? Keep the math going by asking how many she ate and how many she has left.
There is plenty of language that young children can automatically tune out!
If adults are talking, often toddlers are not tuning into the conversation. It is not important to them unless they hear a particular word that is of interest to them like bottle or cookie.
If you are on the phone, while they may hear you, they are often not focusing on your conversation. A radio station or television may have talking during a news program that becomes background noise to kids.
So while your child may be exposed to lots of talking each day, it is not guaranteed they they are listening. This is why it is important to use your child’s name so that they know you are speaking to them.
Always take Advantage of your Surroundings
When you are walking at a park or shopping in the store, take advantage of your environment.
At the park: Danny, do you see those flowers? What color are the flowers?
At the store: Tommy you can hold the soup cans. How many do you have? What color are the cans?
Doing Laundry: Judy, can you find the socks? What color is this sock? How many do you have?
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Make the Most of Your Captive Audience
One of my favorite places to do lots of talking with my kids was always during the car ride to preschool. It was only a 15-20 minute ride but there was lots of language going on!
We had a few favorite color, animal sounds and “I’m thinking of” games that we played for years. Having four children in four years gave us lots of time to talk in the car!
Try these talking activities to get your child talking and thinking more:
Ask your child to name parts of their body. They should know a few. Rather than telling them new ones, ask them first what they can think of. By asking your child questions rather than telling them, you give them a chance to think on their own. Many adults are often too quick to answer for children. If your child doesn’t know the name, tell them. Then be sure to ask the name of that body part next time to see if they remembered.
Play similar games with naming animals, foods, fruits or toys.
Ask your child to name anything that is red or green. It can be something they see or something they think of. When your child is out of ideas, give them hints to think of other items. For example, its a fruit that is round and crunchy with a stem on top.
Give your child hints to guess an item you are thinking of.
I’m thinking of an animal with feathers and wings.
I’m thinking of a fruit that is small, round and grows on a vine.
If the questions are too hard, give more hints. Too easy, give less hints. When your child gets good at the game, let them give you hints to guess what they are thinking!