Maybe you’re noticing a delay with your child’s language acquisition or maybe you’re just looking into ways to help your child learn language at home. There are several fun and easy ways you can help your little one understand and use language.
Let’s first look into how language is acquired. Language is learned through interactions with people and environments. The caretaker is the primary source of communication in the first few years of life. That means you have a lot to offer!
One great way to promote language is talking and narrating. Talking about what your little one is doing, seeing, and hearing is an easy way to expose your child to lots of language. Talk to your baby as you complete everyday tasks. Explain what you are doing as you give him a bath, feed him, and get him dressed. Talk about what you are doing and where you are going. Tell her who or what you will see.
Show your little one that you’re listening! When your baby laughs or makes a funny face, mimic it back to them! Look at your baby when he makes sounds and make the same sounds right back. This is a great first introduction to a “conversation” and turn taking while communicating.
Read stories together from an early age! Read to you little one everyday. Reading consistently is important for language development. When reading, remember to read slowly and to re-read books that you’ve already read. Reading builds vocabulary and teaches children about the world around them. You can even look through a picture book without words and talk about what you see.
Another fun way to promote speech and language is playing with animal sounds. Animal sounds help your baby connect the sound to the animal. Use words like “The cow says moo-moo.” For most babies the easiest sounds to produce are repeated syllables (baba, moo-moo, neigh-neigh). Animal sounds are a great opportunity to work on practicing this skill.
To your little one you’re the main star, so whether you think you have a voice of an angle or not, sing it out! Singing nursery rhymes, or any sort of rhyming song, helps improve language development. When you sing and speak, your baby learns about words, language, and communication.
As your child develops and begins to say one-two words its important to expand on what they are saying. If your little one calls out for you by saying “mama” – use this opportunity to model a complete sentence for her. “Here is Mama. Mama loves you. Where is baby? Here is baby.”
It is tempting to leave your child’s favorite toys in reach so they can enjoy them. However, by placing them out of reach and within eye range, you are setting up an environment for communication. This is a great way to create an opportunity for your little on to request for an item, whether it is verbally (i.e., “give me”) or through gestures (i.e., pointing).
Most importantly, remember to keep communicating fun and interesting! Your little one is learning so much from you and his/her world everyday!
Download the visual below and hang it up in your playroom or kitchen for reminders of how you can promote speech and language at home!