How to Expand Language at Home

January 28, 2018

How to Expand Language at Home

One of the biggest challenges is finding the time to sit down and really focus on building skills, but the good news is that you really don’t need to make it a separate activity. Here are three ways to build early language skills with activities you are already doing!

  1. Play. When was the last time you got down on the floor, eye to eye, and really played? Playing is an excellent way for us to model more advanced language with our children and demonstrate social skills, too. We can show how to have conversations, ask them questions to get their imaginations flowing, and use vocabulary to describe actions and scenarios they probably don’t know yet. Children need us to talk with them. When we are at eye level without other distractions, we can engage, smile, laugh and they can watch our expressions and mouth move to learn about reciprocal communication. Play also allows children to practice different social skills. We often need to show them how to talk to others in various situations. You might try modeling how to introduce people, how to ask for directions, or how to talk about feelings, in a playful way that your child would understand. Puppets and dolls are excellent for these activities. Most importantly, spend 10 or 20 minutes playing today.
  2. Talk, talk, talk. It may seem obvious, but it’s true. The best way to help your child learn more language skills is to talk! I like to tell parents to narrate their day. It seems like a lot of talking, right? It becomes second nature with practice. Talk about what you are doing during the day, think out loud, and put words to actions. For example, when you are getting into the car, you might say, “We need to open the door, put you in your car seat, find the buckles, buckle you up so you’re safe, then I am going to close the door, and get in up front. Now, I wonder what we should buy at the grocery store. I was thinking carrots, apples, and pasta. Oh! It’s cold in here. Let’s turn on the heater.” Do you see how much talking that is just getting into the car? It is an excellent way for children to learn verb tenses, sentence structure, vocabulary, and how to problem solve.
  3. Read. Again, you have heard it before, but are you really getting the most out of story time? Reading books exposes children to new vocabulary and language structure that we might not use in our every day conversations, as well as strengthens their listening comprehension skills. When reading books, make sure to take time to talk about each page. You can do this by using open-ended statements or questions, such as “tell me about the picture.” This elicits more language than asking questions that prompt a one-word response, such as “what’s this?” You can also pose questions to help children learn predicting skills, such as “I wonder what will happen next!” and have children re-tell the story to teach story grammar skills.

I hope you have found this useful. If you are looking for toys or books that are excellent in helping build these early language skills, you may visit our selection over in our shop. We thoughtfully add selections to the shop that we feel will help children learn and grow in the best way. Anyway, everyone gets excited with new toys or books!

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Until next time,

Katie Whitman, M.A., CCC-SLP

Founder & Executive Director of Lola & Lark

Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist

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