Having a baby is a wonderful experience. Each stage is met with great anticipation, from the moment they say their first words or start to walk. Parents influence what they do and learn, and also applies to their language abilities. Lakes Regional Healthcare Speech Pathologist Kelly Mueting works with children of all ages and offers the following four easy, effective ways to expand your child’s language.
Self-talk is narrating what you’re doing. It exposes them to language and helps them connect words to items and actions. For example, “Mommy is washing dishes,” or “Daddy is cutting up a carrot.”
2. Parallel Talk
Parallel talk is similar to self-talk but instead of describing what you’re doing, you describe what your child is doing. For example, “Wow, you’re building a tower! That’s a tall tower!” As in self-talk, it helps children connect words to things and actions.
Expansion involves expanding your child’s knowledge on a topic by giving more information. A perfect time to use the expansion technique is when you’re reading to your child. For example, if you’re reading a book to your child and they point to a puppy in the picture, saying, “Yes, that’s a puppy! That puppy is brown. It looks like that puppy is going for a walk. That puppy is playing with a ball.” Be sure to use all of your senses in your descriptions to enrich the self-talk examples. For example, “Mommy is cutting up strawberries. Strawberries are red. Strawberries taste sweet.”
4. Open-Ended Communication
Another way to expand your child’s language is to continually provide opportunities for open-ended communication. Instead of just telling your child something, offer a suggestion or ask them questions. It helps to further spark their interest in communication. For example, “What do you think we should do today?” If a question is too overwhelming for them, give them choices. “Should we go to the park today or should we go for a walk?”
Communication is fun, so make it fun for your child. Communicate when you’re at home, at the park, or at the store. It enriches your child’s world and helps them improve their language.
Those interested in knowing more can talk to their local family provider.