Updated: Mar 21, 2021
Article Written By: Victoria Mannella Gupta and Melissa Gagnon
As a parent, you want to support your child's language development as best as you can! So you might be asking yourself or your support group questions like these: "Should I put an educational television show on so my child can learn their colours and numbers?" "Should I provide my child with an interactive app on my ipad?" "Should I pick the toys that he/she plays with and control their play time?"
These are all very valid questions and you are not alone in asking these! This week we want to share some very practical ideas and strategies that you can use at home to promote language development without turning on an educational television show, or giving your child an interactive ipad app, or controlling their play.
Instead, try some of these things this week:
1. Sit in front of your child so you are looking at each other when you are doing ANY activity (play, book reading, games, etc...)
We encourage you to be down at your child's level and looking at each other. Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and sit on the ground with them. Be engaged!
Make eye contact
2. Use comments, not questions
Often times parents gravitate towards asking questions because we want to hear our kids talk and give answers. An interaction may look something like this:
o Parent: “Sasha what colour is this?”
o Child: “Blue”
o Parent: “You’re right great job! What is it? Is this a toy car? What sound does a car make?”
Constant question asking, creates a testing environment where a child feels pressure to give a response and can cause children to shut down. We don’t want playtime to be a test! Imagine you went to a physics class, knowing nothing about physics, and your teacher begins asking you questions. How would you feel? Even as adults, we would probably shut down and feel pressure in a situation like this!
Instead of asking questions, try COMMENTING on everything you and your child are doing! Children need to learn and be exposed to communication, just like we would need to learn and be exposed to physics before taking a test.
o Child: Looking at a book with animals
o Parent: Instead of saying "What does a duck say?", COMMENT with “A duck says Quack, Quack”
3. Repeat back the word your child says AND ADD ONE word
If you child says “Ball”, you can respond by adding to the word such as, “Green Ball" or "Bounce Ball"
4. Wait for your child to take a turn after you speak or take a turn in an activity
Give your child a chance to imitate your gestures during play and/or your sounds/words
5. Positively Respond
Always respond to your child when he/she attempts to communicate (whether they make a sound or a word) by:
Repeating the word back to the child
Providing the child with what they are requesting
Ultimately have fun together! There are plenty of places to work on communication such as going for a walk, going to the park, bath time, and mealtime. Enjoy yourself, sing, make funny faces, and let your child learn and explore!