Ways to Promote Language Development in the Home
Children learn their language through what they hear in their surroundings and the interactions they have with their family and friends.
Research has shown that babies are more likely to respond to speech sounds than non-speech sounds.This occurs from before the child is born, and therefore is more likely to respond to voices that they have heard in utero.
Before a child can talk they will communicate through a range of other means such as eye contact, laughing, smiling crying and gesture (e.g. putting their hands up to indicate that they want to be picked up).This interaction is vital for their communication development. Children will develop their receptive language before they will begin to produce language.
Norms of language development
By age 1 â€“ children can say 2 or 3 words other than the word thy use for their mother and father.They will understand simple instructions (e.g. Give it to daddy).They will listen when someone is speaking to them and therefore begin to enjoy games such as â€œpeek-a-booâ€.
1 â€“ 2 years– At this stage a child will use up to 20 words and so combine words (e.g. granny bye bye).They will follow more complex directions and therefore may fetch an object from another part of the house when asked.When reading stories your child will point to pictures of items that you have named.
2 â€“ 3 years â€“ childrenâ€™s language begins to develop much quicker at this stage and they will begin to produce short sentences e.g. â€œTom want drinkâ€.With regard to receptive language a child will understand up to 2 stage commands, e.g. â€œget your bag and put it on the tableâ€. It is also at this stage that children develop an understanding of simple concepts e.g. hot / cold.
3 years + – Children begin to produce sentences of 4 or 5 words in length, will talk about their experiences e.g. in school, and can tell a story. Combining words (e.g. because, and) will be used in sentences.
What you can do
As a parent of carer of a young child there are many different techniques that you can adopt in order to create a good communication environment and promote communication development within the home.
Special time â€“ spend about 10 minutes every day (if you can) giving your child one to one attention, and try to avoid distractions during special time.During this time you use the recommendations listed below giving your child lots of praise and encouragement throughout.
Get down to your childâ€™s level â€“ play and communication are best when you are face to face with your child and this also allows for eye contact to be made easily. Eye contact is an important aspect of communication.
Turn Taking â€“ During our daily interactions we all obey the rules of turn taking and therefore is an important aspect of communication.It is important for children to learn to take turns during activities and this will help to develop an understanding of the rules of turn taking with conversation.It can be developed through games such as rolling a ball between each other for younger children or games like pop up pirate.
During speech activities turn taking can be developed by expanding on what your child says e.g. if child says â€œbabaâ€, you could say â€œYou want your bottle?â€, and then allow them time to say something else.
Talk to your child â€“ a good time to do this is when it is just you and your child for example bath time or dressing.Tell them about the things that they are looking at. Begin with just one word and then build it up.For example begin with â€œduckâ€, â€œtowelâ€, â€œwaterâ€ etc and then step it up to usingmore words for â€œWash duckâ€ etc.This repeated input results in the an improvement in the childâ€™s understanding as they become more familiar with the words and the objects they represent.Try to avoid questioning them â€œwhat is this?â€ as your child may feel that you are testing them.
Follow your childâ€™s lead â€“ let your child decide what they would like to play with and how they are going to play with it (even if itâ€™s not the â€œrightâ€ way). Respond to what your child is interested in.
Play â€“ when a child is doing something of their own choice they are more likely to respond to language input.Play alongside your child describing what you and they are doing.Make sure you just use short sentences as your child may not be able to pick up the important words in long sentences.
Books â€“ read books with your child and allow them time to talk about the pictures.Point out things in the pictures to them, this increases the language that they are taking in.This also encourages your child to engage in joint attention.
If your child says a word incorrectly, do not correct him/her, instead make the word into a short phrase. For example if your child says â€œtupâ€ for cup you could say â€œYes Iâ€™m putting your juice in your cupâ€. The child then hears the correct way to say the word without feeling that they have done something wrong.
Â·Give your child a choice of two things e.g. â€˜Do you want milk or water?â€™.This ensures that your child has to give a response that is not â€œyesâ€ and also makes it easier for them to respond as they have just heard the word that they need to use.
Â·Sing songs and nursery rhymes and when your child becomes familiar with the song you can leave gaps and allow your child to fill them in.