Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fostering Language Development


The toddler years can be very fun as your child’s personality is really starting to come out. However, they can also be very frustrating as your child now knows what they want but have a hard time conveying it to you. As parents, we can play a crucial role in fostering our child’s language development. Language development is obviously an important skill and will have far reaching effects from helping the communication in your home, to how your child will succeed in college.

Here are a few things you can do on a daily basis that will help your child’s language develop:

Talk to your child – This should start the day they are born. You can and should talk to them about everything. Talk as you change their diaper or their clothes, explain what you are doing. Talk as you are out on a walk, point out the different things you can see. You make think it isn’t doing anything, but it is really helping them understand the world around them.

Read to your child DAILY - This cannot be over emphasized. Reading to your child benefits them more than we can even imagine. It helps then learn about language. It teaches them sounds. It teaches them about things and feelings. Books are amazing tools!

Read Nursery Rhymes & Sing SongsBabies are born with a sense of rhythm which allows the beat of songs and rhymes attract their attention. The rhythm is what keeps their attention as they ingest this complex language they are hearing.

Look for books with Rhyme, Rhythm, & Repetition – These types of books provide the most enjoyment and most benefit for young children. As parents recite the same phrases over and over it organizes the baby’s brain to speak and hear language. Through repetition the baby learns what to expect and is able to anticipate the words he will hear which will in turn encourage them to join in. Repetition also strengthens the baby’s memory. As parents recite rhymes and songs they emphasize particular syllables and words with their voice which in turn teaches their children more about language.

Listen – Starting as early as 2 months your child “talks” to you. It is crucial for you to listen and even converse with them, even if you do not understand what they are saying. This encourages them to continue talking and teaches them that you value what they are saying.

Point Out Objects - Sometimes it is a great idea to read a book without actually reading the book. Point out objects as you flip through the pages and have your child point out objects in return. For example you could say “Where is the dog?” and let them point to it. If they don’t know what it is yet, help them point to it. You will be surprised at how fast they catch on.

Don’t Accept Whining as a form of Communication This can be especially trying between the ages of 1 and 2. They know what they want but might not know how to tell you so they resort to whining until they get it. When this happens, ask them kindly to stop and to use words. If they continue, it might be a good idea to start listing things off they might want such as a drink, a certain toy, food, etc. Sometimes you might even need to lift them up and have them show you what they want. When you finally discover what it is, tell them repeatedly what it is, “This is a banana, you love bananas. Let’s go eat your banana.” You can even have them recite it back to you. It can be hard, but be patient and remember they are trying their best to communicate.

How do you foster language development in your home?

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