As parents, we all want our children to grow up to be confident and articulate communicators. Language development is one of the most important skills a child can learn in their early years. Children will move from simple words and phrases to expressing themselves clearly and precisely. They will next use broad vocabulary and grammar that reflect their personalities. However, when we build language skills it is not a one-size-fits-all process, and knowing where and how to start can be challenging. In this post, we’ll explore techniques for building language in your child so that you can help them on their journey to becoming a confident communicator.
Engage in Conversation
One of the best ways to build language skills in children is by engaging in conversation with them. Researchers discovered that having conversations with your children enhances their neural networks and leads to greater academic achievement. You should talk to your child throughout the day, not just during structured activities. Speak to them at their level and encourage them to respond with words or gestures. Give them time to formulate responses, and when they do, acknowledge and expand on their comments. Ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response, and allow your child to express themselves freely. Ask your child to tell you 1 to 2 things that have happened in their day.
Use Books as a Tool
Books are a valuable tool for building language skills in children. Reading books to your child at an early age can help them develop vocabulary, comprehension, and storytelling skills. In addition, they will develop better rhyming ability and verbal comprehension. When reading to your child, ask questions about what they see and hear in the story. Encourage them to make predictions about what will happen next. As they get older, have them read aloud to you and discuss the themes and ideas in the book. You can expose your child to 78,000 words per year if you read one book daily.
Play with Words
Playing with words is a fun way to build language skills in children. Use rhyming words and play the ‘Yes/No’ game by asking questions and encouraging your child to ask you questions. You can also create your own silly language with made-up words. Encourage your child to play with language by making up their own words or using different inflections and tones. As they get older, they can play word games like Scrabble or Boggle and challenge themselves to learn new words.
There are countless ways to be creative with language and help your child build their skills. Write stories together, create plays or skits, or makeup songs. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings through writing or drawing. As they get older, they can try writing poetry or journaling. These creative activities build language skills and help your child develop self-expression and critical thinking abilities.
Model Good Communication Skills
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to help your child build language skills is to model good communication skills yourself. Be a good listener, speak clearly and concisely, and use correct grammar and vocabulary. Allow your child to see you communicate with a wide range of people and in different situations. Show them the importance of active listening, eye contact, and using body language to convey meaning.
Building language skills in children is a process that requires patience, encouragement, and dedication. By engaging in conversation, using books, playing with words, being creative, and modeling good communication skills, parents can help their children become confident and articulate communicators. Remember, every child is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to language development. Be creative, stay positive, and above all, have fun!
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Logan, J. A., Justice, L. M., Yumus, M., & Chaparro-Moreno, L. J. (2019). When children are not read to at home: The million word gap. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 40(5), 383-386.
Niklas, F., Cohrssen, C., & Tayler, C. (2016). The sooner, the better: Early reading to children. Sage Open, 6(4), 2158244016672715.
Romeo, R. R., Leonard, J. A., Robinson, S. T., West, M. R., Mackey, A. P., Rowe, M. L., & Gabrieli, J. D. (2018). Beyond the 30-million-word gap: Children’s conversational exposure is associated with language-related brain function. Psychological science, 29(5), 700-710.
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