Children learn speech and language by exploring, listening, watching, babbling, playing, copying and interacting with others. The quantity of words spoken to a child in the first three years of life is strongly associated with a child’s skills, vocabulary size and IQ later in life. Here are some ways you can support your child’s communication in the early years:
- Slow down and be present during interactions – stop scrolling, put your phone down and give your full attention to your child.
- Read, read, read! Read aloud every day to your child.
- Follow your child’s lead. Play games your child is interested in and let them take the lead. This is more challenging than you think!
- Get face-to-face. Get down on the floor and interact with your child.
- More than words! Don’t just focus on your child’s words. Children (and adults!) communicate messages in a variety of ways including using their body and voice. Try and interpret those messages and respond to their many ways of communicating.
- Try to keep your language positive. Balance the “no”, “stop” and “don’t” with lots of positive talk!
- Expand on what your little one says. For example, if they say “car”, expand to “fast car!” with emphasis on new words.
- Create a toy rotation as a child is likely to stay with one toy for longer if there are less toys within reach.
- Sing! Singing is a great way to engage your child and is great for speech and language.
- Get outside! Do activities your child enjoys as these are great opportunities to engage with them.
- Limit screen time. Research shows vocabulary is best learnt through direct conversation AND time spent on the screen is time spent not doing things that are better for development.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on (02)4862 5063.
Written by Mikaela Bow, Speech Pathologist, Southern Highlands Speech Pathology