5 Easy Ways to Encourage Your Child's Language Development

Photo Credit: Kid Nurse

Photo Credit: Kid Nurse

Studies have shown that children who are read to and spoken to in their early childhood years will grow up to have a better vocabulary and better grammar skills. While many of the children that our therapists work with have been diagnosed with a delay of some sort, these tips are great for young children both with and without a speech delay.

1. Narrate your day.

Talk about what you are doing, what your child is doing, and what you see. This may seem a little strange at first, but is great for building your child's vocabulary. A couple examples: "I see a blue car driving by that yellow house.", "It's time to put on your clothes now. Put your arm through the sleeve of your red shirt."

2. Read to your child.

Even if she can't sit through an entire book, point and describe what you see on each page. Just flipping through and labeling a few things is a great start and will help build your child's vocabulary (and her attention span!).

3. Repeat what your child says, expanding on the word(s). 

When your child is learning to talk, you don't want to correct him every time he says a word. Instead, repeat it correctly, and expand upon it. For example, if your child points to a truck and says "twuck", say "Yes, that's a truck." or "I see the truck. Do you see the wheels?". 

4. Wait before you jump in.

Give your child 10 seconds to make an attempt to communicate (reaching, pointing, words, signs) before assisting him with what he wants/needs. When your child does point/non-verbally communicate, make sure you tell him the word and expand on it. "Oh, you want the cup. Here's the cup! Let's put juice in your cup."

5. Play games and songs. 

Language is especially tough for children who have a delay, so making it fun will help them feel more relaxed and put less pressure on them. Make up silly songs together or sing songs from the TV/YouTube. Pairing the words with movements/motions will make it even more fun!

For even more ways to encourage language skills in children birth-six years, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has a great list that you can get here! The ASHA website also has some wonderful resources to help you understand communication and communication disorders.

What fun things have you done to encourage language with your child?