Language skills are the key to a lifelong experience of learning. You may be surprised at how much your baby and toddler can learn and understand from a very early age. The following five tips will help you to help your child to develop essential language skills.
Avoid Baby Talk
Babies may not be able to talk back to you in coherent language, but mimicking their baby sounds back to them will not teach them how to talk. Saying “Goo goo, ga ga” is not the way to teach your baby how to speak properly. Think about what television shows you expose your child to.
Shows such as “Play School,” and “Sesame Street” will model better language skills, especially for toddlers. Shows like “Peppa Pig,” and “Thomas the Tank Engine and “Friends” allow children to explore the land of imagination and interaction, while still modelling proper language skills.
Speak to Your Child
Providing good examples of language skills to your child is essential if you want your baby or toddler to learn to speak well. Even from birth, your baby will be listening and learning from his or her environment. Talk to your baby in proper sentences and talk directly to your baby.
Even something as simple doing the washing can help your child to learn. “Mummy is washing the clothes.” “See Daddy hang up the red shirt.” Explaining what you are doing, even if your baby is in your arms or in a body sling, can help your child to develop crucial understanding.
Use descriptive words, such as colors, to help your child to differentiate between different items. Rather than just say, “Mummy is driving the blue bus in front of Mummy’s car?” The more you talk and the more your child hears, the easier it is for you.
Read to Your Child
Even as babies, all children love to sit cuddled with Mummy or Daddy and listen to Mummy or Daddy reading a book. Read at least one book a day to your child. Reading three or four different books throughout the day will really enable your child to learn language.
As your child grows from baby to toddler, use interactive questions about the book to encourage your child to engage and speak. Even before a child can speak, ask your child to point to items in the book, and you may be surprised at how much your child can express or show you.
Questions like “Can you see the purple butterfly?” will encourage your child to point to the book. If your child does not see the purple butterfly, point to it yourself and ask the question again. Most children will point to it straight away after being shown.
They may even point to that again when you read the book next time. Read a variety of books and ask questions so that your child shows comprehension of the reading. Encouraging your toddler to answer in a vocal way (even if still pointing to the pictures), will give your child the courage to speak what words they do know.
If you do not own many books, visiting your local library often will give your child a great variety of reading materials.
Use Nursery Rhymes and Songs to Teach
This teaches your child that things can sound similar while still being different and they learn to distinguish many different sounds from nursery rhymes and songs. Nursery Rhymes and children’s songs are usually very easy to learn, easy to repeat, and teach your child about the world around them.
As your child develops speech, you will find them repeating nursery rhymes and songs they heard frequently as a baby because they are so easy to remember. Songs like “Old McDonald’s Farm” can help your child to learn how to make many different sounds. Animal sounds are often easy to say, “baa, moo, cluck, quack, woof,” and teach your child how to use their lips and mouths to make different sounds that are essential in learning to speak properly.
Songs with actions can also help your child to learn to supplement the words they can say with actions, that will enable you to understand what your toddler wants. Even teaching your child to make nonsensical sounds or fun sounds like “blowing raspberries” or “roaring like a lion,” can teach your child how to move their tongue and mouths to make different sounds that are the beginnings of speech.
Songs that are repetitive with a slight change and appropriate actions are excellent for teaching language skills, as your child will learn to listen for the change.