Talking, understanding others, and knowing what to say next are essential skills in our day-to-day lives. Being able to communicate properly helps children learn, make friends, and enjoy life to the fullest. As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher; therefore, you play a vital role in his or her speech and language development.
Here are ways you can support your child’s speech and language development at a young age:
Read to your child.
It is never too early to read to your child. Sometimes, reading might simply mean describing the pictures in a book to your child. Select big and attractive books that have colourful pictures and are not too detailed in writing. Encourage your child to point and name familiar objects in the book.
Always keep talking.
Make an effort to always talk about what is happening. Talk about things that make sense to your child and remember to use lots of different words. From the moment your child starts speaking, encourage them to talk about events that have unfolded during the day and the plans for the next day.
Be a good role model.
Always speak slowly and clearly and maintain eye contact when you are communicating with your child. If he or she says a word or sentence wrongly, rather than correcting them or asking them to repeat it, say that word or sentence back to them correctly. This way, your child will always hear the correct version and try to apply it appropriately.
Repeating your child’s wrong words or sentences also encourages language turn taking. He or she will understand that talking to you captures your attention and will help to attain desired actions or objects. As a parent, always try to use open-ended questions, rather than yes or no questions. This will encourage more speech and language opportunities.
Patiently wait for a response when talking to your child and try not to speak for him or her. This will encourage independence and confidence when communicating.
Create a friendly environment to communicate.
Wait for your child to request for items rather than beating him or her to it. For instance, you may notice that your child is thirsty. Instead of offering water immediately, you can allow your child to realize that he or she is thirsty and ask for the water from you. Alternatively, you can structure play activities that will require your child to ask you for help to continue with the game.
An early learning centre is also a great environment that exposes your child to language and playgroups. Playing with peers will require kids to construct sentences in order to participate fully.
Use televisions and computers sparingly
There is a misconception that television helps a child develop his or her language and speech. New research has proved watching television prior to starting school can severely affect your child’s attention and listening skills. This will negatively impact their learning at school. Computer games, on the other hand, are interactive but are not responsive to a child’s ideas.
Those are the tips that any parent can easily do. Do you have other tips to share? Feel free to share it in the comments below.