I often get asked ‘what can I do to help?’ support early language development.
Here are some of my top tips that you can choose to do at home…and they don’t cost a penny.
- Commenting – Provide a running commentary on what your child is doing. This helps ‘hook meaning onto language’ in everyday life. For example, if your child is pushing a train the adult can say “pushing the train, choo choo”. If your child is building a tower the adult might say “picking up a brick”, “building a tower”, “wobbling tower”, “fall down” Etc…
- Extending – Add a word onto your child’s sentence. For example, if your child says “car” the adult says “red car”, if you child say “dog” the adult can say “big dog”.
- Give choices – Creating simple opportunities such as holding up two objects and saying “do you want apple or biscuit?” This can encourage them to use communication and language that they didn’t need to use before. You can then model back their choice “biscuit” and give them the item.
- Creating more communication opportunities – It might be that you put toys or snacks in boxes that are hard to open, or put something out of reach, so your child needs to initiate interaction with you or ask for help
- Songs/nursery rhymes – Singing songs, dancing and nursery rhymes are all great for helping develop early language skills, supporting attention and listening skills.
- Use gesture – Using gesture can help give an ‘extra scaffold’ to language, supporting understanding and expression. For those who are not confident signers, just making a conscious decision to use more gestures when talking and interacting with your child can be a great strategy to support language.
- Play – Supporting language through play is great. In early language development children learn language through play (ranging from sensory/people play to higher level play). It is an opportunity for you to play alongside and use strategies such as commenting and extending. It might be for some adults, they make the decision to have 15 minutes quality time with just that child playing (either alongside or with).