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Talk with your child!
Children start absorbing language and communicating almost the minute they are born. When you respond to your child's cries with comfort, food, a diaper change, or just attention and cuddles, your child learns that when she expresses herself, you understand. Always talk with your child slowly, clearly, and in the language you feel the most comfortable using. There are many opportunities to talk with your child during the day: travelling in the car or on the bus, during meals, and baths, during play time, to name a few! Asking questions and waiting for a response will help your child develop his language skills.
Watch the following video for a great example of talking with your child:
Great Things Happening in this Video
- Dad talks about making lunch while he is doing it; this helps the toddler understand exactly what “eggplant” and “onion” are. These are also words that may not come up every day, helping build his vocabulary.
- Dad lets his toddler touch the eggplant and smell the onion. By encouraging his son to use his nose and his fingers, Dad makes it more likely that his son will remember these words because the memory will use more than one part of his brain (parts of the brain responsible for smell, touch, hearing, and seeing).
- Dad gives his toddler jobs to do—throwing away the onion, wiping off his tray—which makes it an interactive experience.
- Did you notice that although the boy never spoke, he poked the eggplant, smelled the onion, put the onion in the bowl, and wiped the rag when Dad asked him to? Although the toddler can’t speak, he understands much of what is happening. Your child understands more than you know, even though she may not speak yet!
Easy Ways to Talk to Your Child Today
- Ask questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” This will require your child to practice forming and expressing complete thoughts and to use more vocabulary.
- Repeat what your child says and add more; for example, if your child points out a fire truck, you can say, “Yes, that is a big, red fire truck. It has a siren that makes a loud noise!”
- Narrate your day: talk about making a sandwich while you are doing it, discuss the clothes you dress your child in, talk about the things you see while you walk and drive.
- Make connections with past events. Talk about an activity you and your child did in the past and how that connects to what you are doing now (Example: “Remember when we finished the Cheerios this morning? Now we need to go to the grocery store and buy another box!”).
- Take turns! Give your child the chance to speak; this will help him learn how to have a conversation. And be sure to give him lots of time to respond to questions—children that are learning to speak need time to organize and express their thoughts.