How to Support your Child's Language Development
It's never too early to help children as their language skills begin to develop. When young children are exposed to a variety of words, phrases, and sounds as early as birth, they tend to have an easier time mastering vocabulary and speaking skills later in life. As a parent, you play an important role in supporting your child's language development. Here are eight tips to help you begin.
1. Read, read, and read some more
As soon as early signs of language begin to emerge, language development occurs at a rapid speed. Around age three, children can learn about 300 words every day. Think about the amount of language they pick up just from their favorite books. When you read at home with your little one, be sure to make the activity engaging. Point out pictures and tell stories based on what children see and hear. Kids enjoy predictability and knowing what comes next. Try to incorporate reading into your family’s daily routine. Reading books before bedtime is an excellent way for parents and children to bond while enriching your little one’s language development.
2. Play language-rich games
You can also boost your child's language development through play with games that are language-rich. You might make animal sounds and have your child imitate you, or match an action to the context of a sentence (for example, "It's feeding time for monkeys!") These types of games utilize language skills such as following directions and understanding complex sentences. Games like BINGO and Charades can make practicing language fun too!
3. Use the power of music
Language development happens during a variety of activities that go beyond reading books. Music has been proven to enhance language mastery with children. You can enrich your child’s language skills by using songs as a method for teaching new vocabulary words. You can also invite children to create their own lyrics or dance along to the beat of a song. Going to see your child's favorite band or artist in concert also enhances language acquisition. Auditory stimulation is an important component of language development for children.
4. Talk to kids about their interests
The best way to encourage language development with your child is to connect through conversation. Talk to children regularly about the topics in which they're most interested. Conversations about high-interest areas are more likely to encourage children to express themselves freely and acquire essential language skills along the way. Some of these skills include listening and participating in conversation, asking questions, and sharing their opinions about their experiences. This is another great way to make language development fun!
5. Label items around your home
Placing labels on objects is one of the easiest ways to introduce the concept of language into your child's life. Labeling various items (such as food containers) helps us identify which ingredients are in each food. Labels on toys help your child learn how to read basic vocabulary words they can associate with each object (like “ball”). When you label household items, it helps to create a language-rich environment for your child and helps ensure that language development is a natural part of your daily routine.
6. Teach your child than one language
Exposing children to multiple languages as early as birth is another great way to enhance language development. You can introduce a language other than English by speaking it with friends, family members, and other caregivers. This can help children learn both languages simultaneously. It also encourages “language mixing”, which refers to the mixing of words from different languages. For example, your child might say, "I want apple juice," while using a combination of English and Spanish vocabulary words. This can also be referred to as code-switching.
7. Get creative
Creative arts are another fantastic tool that can enrich language development. Art is also a kind of “language”, which makes it a great way to teach language to children. It's never too early to introduce children to the alphabet with clay or paint. Kids can practice language skills by matching labels with their corresponding objects. For example, you might say, "This is a picture of a dog," while pointing to the name and picture. Writing words with paint is another great way to promote language development. These activities encourage children to be expressive with language while expanding their vocabulary.
8. Look for language enrichment opportunities in everyday activities
Language develops most effectively when it's cultivated through regular exposure. You can encourage this with your little one through consistent language immersion. You’ll find plenty of language enrichment opportunities during your everyday activities, such as visiting the grocery store or doctor's office. Simple daily tasks provide perfect opportunities to help your child acquire language skills.
Nurturing your child's language development early on is essential. Use these language-boosting tips to help your little one practice and acquire language skills.
At Mrs. Myers' Learning Lab, we specialize in providing fun and interactive classes for developing readers. Our engaging process encourages students to develop self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and a love for learning that extends far beyond the classroom. Contact us to learn more!