5 Tips and Tricks for Language Development
Easy ways to help promote language development at home
As parents and caregivers, you are naturally keeping a close eye on your child's development. Language development is a crucial aspect of overall development and begins far earlier than you expect. Language development begins as soon as your child is born. They are constantly learning about their environment and showing us they are listening by looking at items, making eye contact with speakers, attending to noises, interacting with toys, and more. Supporting language growth is an important way we can set up our children up for success during development.
"Your child starts communicating with you long before they say their first words" - American Speech and Hearing Association
Below are some helpful tips you can easily add into your daily activities to promote robust language development
Tip #1 - Play with sounds
Don't be afraid to get silly! The first step towards language development is establish joint attention between speakers and your baby. Sounds are a great way to get your child's attention and help them make connections with sounds and actions. Label sounds throughout the day-if something falls say "bang!" "uh-oh" or "plop."
Another great way to play with sounds is to play with musical instruments or toys that have built-in sounds. These keep our children engaged and provide easy sounds for us to model!
Tip #2 - Use simple language
Simplify your language! As adults, we tend to use big and complicated words. While this is great for children as they are growing their vocabulary, when they are learning to use sounds and their first words are emerging, simple is better. Simple words and sound models such as "bubuh" for "bubble" or "wawa" for "water." This helps your child as they are transitioning from babbling to words to make meaningful connections between speech production and solid items in their environment.
Tip #3 - Label everything
Continuing with simple language, labeling is incredibly important with building a robust vocabulary. As you go about your day, label items you use, actions you are doing, and what is going on around your child. Play with toys that have lots of different aspects to them (i.e. Mr. Potato head-body parts, farm animals-animals and animal sounds, etc). Talk about what you are doing even if you feel silly-your child is always listening!
Tip #4 - Read
We all know that this is a great way to support language, but it doesn't have to be complicated! Reading can simply mean looking at pictures in books and labeling what you see. You don't have to follow the written words or even make a story! Choose books with large, colorful pictures (bonus points if it requires actions!).
"As children playfully engage in sound play, they eventually learn to segment words into their separate sounds, and "map" sounds onto printed letters, which allows them to begin to learn to read and write." - American Speech and Hearing Association, 2006
Tip #5 - Recast, recast, recast
This may be the most important tip of all! As your child is beginning to babble and use words, recasting their speech will be a crucial part of their language development. It helps them make connections and corrections in their speech. If they say "bababa" and point to a ball, you could say "yes, ball!" This helps solidify that what they are pointing to is indeed a ball and also helps them understand that when they say things, it carries specific meaning.
As your child begins to use words, expand their vocabulary by recasting and adding details! For example, if your child says "ball," you could respond with "yes, big ball!" This affirms that "ball" is correct and also helps them learn new vocabulary.
You can also recast your child's speech if you hear incorrect language. For example, if your child says "ball big," you could respond with "yes, the ball is big!" Doing this provides your child with models of language with correct grammar and pronunciation.
Language growth is a crucial aspect of development.
Encouraging your child's language growth doesn't have to be complicated. Start by adding these simple tips and tricks to activities you are naturally doing throughout your day or during playtime!
If you have concerns about your child's language development, a speech language pathologist can evaluate and treat delays in this area of development.
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