Here are five great ways to develop your child’s language:
- Use language involved in literacy. Young children are able to understand that words and letters carry meaning. They can begin to identify letters on signs or logos and understand their meaning. Make it a habit to ask children if they would like to read a story. Be sure to read the titles of books while tracing your fingers along the words, and write their names on personal items or areas, such as on toy boxes, a closet door, art work, etc. This will allow young children to visually relate letters and words to names of people, objects, and places.
- Encourage imagination and language use. As young children begin to express themselves, ask questions and allow them to explain. For example, if a child says that her teddy bear can’t go outside with her, and is asked “why,” she may say that he doesn’t have a jacket to keep him warm. Casual conversations can give you an idea of what your children know, as well as their developing vocabulary. A parent may then ask what she may do to keep him warm or offer a simple suggestion, such as wrapping him in a small blanket.
- Include children in daily tasks that require reading and writing. You can ask what items might be needed for a trip to the park, for example, and make a list together. As children use language in conversation, begin to write down what is said. Dictating your child’s original story told out loud is a great way to do this. You can read the story again later or act it out, which fosters memory and language skills.
- Point out letters and words in the environment. Take a walk around the neighborhood and point out letters on billboards, on buses, storefronts, and signs. Children will begin to relate these letters to other words as they are reminded verbally. For example, “Look, letter T is on the front of the Target store.”
- Sing songs and read together. Songs can be adopted from your child’s favorite t.v show, or you can make up your own when you are walking, driving, or waiting to cross the street. Reading classic rhymes are a great way to introduce the sounds of words. The best choices include books that personally interest your child. A trip to the local library is a wonderful way to offer children a variety of choices.