Article Written By: Melissa Gagnon, Owner and Speech-Language Pathologist
There are so many activities that you and your child do together on a daily basis- from getting ready in the morning, to running errands, to reading books, and playing at the park! Doing these tasks day in and day out may not mean much to us as adults, but for children learning language, there are many benefits! You can use each one of these activities to help support your child’s speech, language, and/or literacy development!
Did you know that there is research to support the following:
1) Having routines and repetition: Repetition helps a child learn how events are sequenced- what comes before and after. They allow a child to predict what is coming next and gives them the opportunity to take a turn. For children who are learning language, this is very important as it offers them the opportunity to participate by filling in words (e.g. “Row, row, row your _______”).
Routines teach a child social roles, such as how to initiate and respond to other. They teach a child new vocabulary by “mapping” new words and attaching meaning to them. A child needs to hear a word multiple times in order to understand the meaning of words and routines allow for multiple word exposures.
2) Reading the same books over and over: The more a child reads and hears words, the larger their vocabulary becomes. As you read books multiple times, a child may soon memorize the text and this is not a negative thing! As they memorize the text, they learn new vocabulary, learn about the characters, are able to re-tell the story, and develop their comprehension. They also become familiar with pattern and rhythm of text- which teaches them how words and sounds connect to each other and improves fluency of reading.
Reading books over and over also allows a child more opportunities to see words on the page and they begin to recognize the spelling of words. Over time, these words can become sight words for the child, which in turn increases the speed of reading.
3) Copying your child during play: When you copy your child during play, this lets them know you see them and are interested in what THEY are doing! By copying your child in their play, you are involving yourself in their thought process and can then help to model and extend their play. For example, if your child likes driving cars down a ramp, you can copy and add! You could make your car topple over and act out a whole scene in which you need to “fix” your car. The goal would be to encourage your child to extend play sequences and copy you!
As your child copies your gestures and play,
1) you are taking more “turns” and increasing the number of repetitions
2) you are building their imitation skills and
3) you are able to introduce new vocabulary
4) Highlighting letter names and sounds: Start pointing out letter names and sounds at an early age! It is important to start exposing children to letters and what they look like, as well as, helping them make associations with letters (e.g., "That's an 'r', that is in your name" or "Reid starts with an 'r' as well").
Start getting into the habit of teaching letters in a multisensory way! Try to incorporate sight, touch, sound and more when working on letters! Visit the Active Reader's page to check out their early reader pack! These flash cards provide you with multiple ideas on how to make letter learning multisensory!
It is also important to be repetitive when introducing letter names and sounds to your child! Use as many opportunities throughout the day to point out and talk about letters (in the car, reading books, making dinner, playing with magnets on the fridge).
In all the above, the key is to keep it simple, keep it relevant to what your child is interested in, and REPEAT!