Parents play a critical role in a child’s language development. Studies have shown that children who are read to and spoken with a great deal during early childhood will have larger vocabularies and better grammar than those who aren’t. Here are some ways to expand your little one’s language development.
Read With Your Little Ones
It’s never too early to read to your little bundle of joy. Parents can start with simple board books and graduate to picture books and longer stories as their child gets older. Let your child hold the book and turn the pages. This will help your little one learns how a book works. Let your little one takes over and read to you, in whatever way they can. Your little one may want to point to the pictures and have you say what they are, talking about the pictures that are in the book will aid in enhancing your little one’s language skills. “The doggy in the picture is getting tired. He is in his bed. He is going night-night. Night, night, doggy.” Talking about the pictures helps children develop a better understanding of what is happening in the story. Sometimes, instead of reading the actual words in the book, you can simply talk about the pictures on each page.
Talk About Anything & Everything
Narrate the day as it evolves. Tell your little one, for instance, “Now we’re going to go for a walk in the park. Are you excited?” Research has found that the more parents talk with their children, the larger vocabularies those children develop. These children also use more advanced sentence structures. So, chatting with your toddler whether in the car, at the playground or during bath time is very important.
Storytime All the Time
Instead of reading a book, tell your child a story. Little ones still gain important literacy skills by listening. They learn new words. They also learn how a story unfolds in a sequence (beginning, middle, and end). If your little one shows no interest in the storybook you’re reading, then place the book down and try making up a story instead, paired with facial expressions and some performing arts. Make up elaborate stories with characters, conflict, adventure, and a happy ending. Be sure that the stories fit your child’s interests and aren’t too scary for their liking.
Enjoy Music Together
Young children love music and movement. When they listen to lively songs, like ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm,’ they learn about the world around them and the rhythm of language. Music plays a very important part of learning both our native language, as well as additional ones. As children, we can imitate the rhythm and musical structure of our mother tongue long before we can say the words. Most of us can remember several songs and nursery rhymes we learned as children. Music helps us retain words and expressions much more effectively. The rhythm of the music, as well as the repetitive patterns within the song, help us memorize words. Bilingual children can benefit from singing songs in their second language. Even if most of the words are unfamiliar at first, mimicking the words in a song can help children practice producing sounds in the new language. Eventually, the sounds give way to actual understanding as the song is practiced repeatedly.
Use Television & Computers Sparingly
Studies report a link between TV and language development in babies. The more time babies spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk. It is recommended that children younger than 2 not watch television at all and that children 2 and older view no more than two hours of quality programming a day. While some educational programs can be beneficial to kids, mind-numbing TV shows don’t interact with or respond to children, which are the two catalysts kids need to learn language. Computer games are interactive, but they aren’t responsive to a child’s ideas.
Pay Close Attention to The Books You Pick for Your Little Ones
Choose books with stories that repeat words or phrases. Children learn new words and pronunciations through repetition. Select picture books with strong storylines and character development, a book with a straightforward story employing words that will be familiar from everyday use. Some publishers produce books, generally called “easy readers,” which independent readers often enjoy. A lot of informational books have been published for younger children. These non-fiction books encourage children to read about topics that interest them and to satisfy their curiosity about complex subjects.