This week we have an amazing guest joining us on the blog! I’d like to introduce you to Robyn Miller from The Mental Load Project. Robyn is an Australian paediatric doctor with a special interest in supporting parents to re-balance their home lives and take away that overwhelming feeling of trying to juggle all.the.things. She’s joining us to share 6 everyday tips to boost your child’s language development at home!
Language development – aahh! You’ve probably heard that there’s a precious window for language development in young children.
“They’re like sieves. They absorb everything. They’re learning all the time.”
All this is true so it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling “pressured” to be talking every minute of the day! But this isn’t necessarily the best way – plus it’s exhausting! So how can you make the most of this precious window without going crazy? In this blog, I’ll share 6 every day tips to maximize your child’s language development without adding any extra stress or time demands!
1. Language is a two-way street
Language is a two-way street. Always try to communicate with your child not to your child. It’s important to remember that a child’s brain’s processing speed is slower than an adult’s. When you ask a question or ask your child to do something, try counting to 10 in your head before you ask again. By that time, chances are your child will have responded. Asking again or adding another sentence after your initial request will often confuse your child and make them less likely to respond appropriately.
2. Look for little opportunities
There will be lots of little opportunities to incorporate language into everyday activities. For example, if you are hanging the washing out, you can name colours or items of clothing. But, as in point 1, your child’s brain can be easily overwhelmed. There’s no need to provide a running commentary for them all day long! If your child is deeply engaged in an activity such as drawing or puzzles, allow them to focus on the activity. They will in turn request your attention by looking at you or calling out when they want to show you what they’ve done or if they need help with something. You can use then this opportunity to talk with them about the activity.
3. Reading and rhymes
An oldie but a goodie! Books are a great way to develop language and story telling. Make the most of story time by letting your child choose which book they read, encouraging them to turn the pages and pointing out objects of interest on the page. Sometimes it can also be helpful to position yourselves so your child can see both the book and your face (either in front of one another or in a triangle between you, your child and the book). Repetition is great for language development so enjoy reading the same books over and over! Books like Dear Zoo* and Brown Bear* or stories like The 3 Little Pigs* include repetitive phrases which children often love. Similarly, short little rhymes such as “yum, yum, yum in my tum, tum, tum” are often very popular with kids for similar reasons.
4. Enjoy all sounds
Language involves more than just words. Enjoy all different types of sounds together. Try and notice where the sounds are coming from. Is that a bird in the tree? Is that a helicopter in the sky? Did a truck just drive past? Animal noises and sound effects like sirens are other great ways to encourage your child to listen to and make different sounds.
5. Add an extra word
When your child starts speaking, they will begin saying just one word at a time. After a few months, they’ll start putting two words together, then it will become a short sentence and then, eventually, whole stories. You can help your child learn new words and phrases by adding an extra word or two to what they say. For example, if they say, “car” you could say, “red car” or if they say “cow moo” you could respond by saying “the cow says moo”. If you’re teaching a new word for an object such as a toy, try holding the toy beside your mouth so they can see how you say it.
6. Dance, sing and move
Language for children is not so much about sitting around and talking as about enjoying all forms of communication. This could be simple games like peek-a-boo, singing and dancing together or your child running through your legs whilst saying “under”. Simple songs with actions are always a hit! Babies and toddlers often also enjoy anticipating what’s coming next. Songs like “Here is the bee hive” and “When all the cows were sleeping…” are great for providing this anticipation.
And above everything else, have fun! This post is by no means an exhaustive list or a must-do checklist. The best things for your child’s language development are little everyday activities that you can both enjoy!
Thank you so much to Robyn Miller for joining us here on the blog this week to share some amazing tips for supporting the language development of our little learners! If you’d like to connect with Robyn, you can find her over at The Mental Load Project website as well as Facebook and Instagram.
This is for general information only and does not replace going to see a doctor or speech pathologist. Should you have specific medical or health concerns please consult your doctor. You should not delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice nor discontinue prescribed treatments or therapy because of information in this blog