As a parent, no one knows your child better than you, and you’re usually the best person to notice your child’s speech and language development. Each and every child works at their own pace, where exact timings for development may differ. Here are our top tips on how to encourage your toddler’s talking and communication skills.
For younger children, an updated hearing screening may be recommended, so that doctors can check if there are any impairments. Hearing impairments can lead to a delay in speech and language development.
Before exploring our top tips to encourage your child’s communication skills, it’s important to understand that we need to provide a high number of modelling i.e. teaching opportunities. These opportunities will allow your child to understand a word’s correct context and intent in communicating a meaningful message.
This is where the role of you, as a parent, will come into play. Research has proven that children most successful in learning and adopting new skills are those who’ve had extra support from their parents, at-home. The research included both pre-school and school-age children.
5 Reasons Why a Parent is so Important for Language Development
- You’re able to provide your child with individual attention.
- In small bits at a time, you can offer various learning opportunities at different times of the day e.g. at breakfast, bath time, grocery shopping and bedtime.
- You can encourage your child’s confidence, motivation and self-esteem through frequent praise.
- Opportunity to incorporate speech and language targets into everyday activities. As you may know, it’s like riding a bike. The more you practise, the more their skills will improve.
- You can support your child outside of stressful medical and/or clinical offices. You can encourage and practise activities anywhere, anytime – parent-led.
7 Top Tips for Talking to Support Core Vocabulary
1. Familiarise your child…
With people in your life that you’re most familiar and comfortable with could be a fun activity when looking at photo albums. “Point to our cat, Ginger.”
This allows your child to understand association and the right context when using different names.
2. Early social words…
These words should be accompanied by clear facial expressions and body language to support the meaning of the word.
For example, nodding your head for yes and shaking your head side to side for no. These early social words can include; hello, ok, yes, no, uh-oh, wow, ta and thank you.
3. Food and drink
This is a fun way to create modelling opportunities when preparing food in the kitchen, packing lunch and even when you’re grocery shopping. Provide your child with choices for food and drink. While offering two choices, let your child point or look at the chosen item. Model their choice for them.
For example, saying “I want banana.” Eventually, you’ll be able to only model the sentence starter such as “I want…” – pause and let them tell you the chosen item. These core related vocabulary words can include, yum yum, yummy, food, apple, banana, bread, biscuit, juice, water, milk and drink.
4. Body parts…
We all have them – so why not use them to encourage your child’s talking? These early words can include; eyes, ears, fingers, feet, hair, hand, mouth, nose, teeth, tummy and toes. You can incorporate this when singing nursery rhymes such as “head, shoulders, knees and toes.”
Remember, when singing, point to each body part clearly. Pause on various points in the rhyme and see if your child can label and fill in the gap correctly.
5. Early words for clothes, animals and vehicles
Some of these words include socks, shoes, pants, top, cat, dog, tiger, car, bus and bike. Encourage these words in everyday conversations. For clothes, when getting dressed, you can comment and talk about what they’re going to wear or what you are wearing.
For example, “is it a sock or hat?” You can use them as conversation starters when driving to school in the morning, or when seeing different animals around. For example, “I can see a bus, what can you see.”
6. Household objects
These can be a fun way to foster communication. You can set up and model opportunities to allow your child to ask or comment for example, if they need something – but don’t ask.
Model a response for them: “Oh no, you need a spoon. Here is a spoon.” These words can include; clock, cup, spoon, toilet, bed, chair, TV, keys, light, phone, bottle and door.
7. Action words
These are words like fall, fly, go, more, open, push, eat, drink, wash and cry. When playing outside with a ball, before you kick or roll it to your child, say “go” or “push,” just before you’re about to push your child on the swing.
You could take photos of when they’re doing these action words such as drawing, jumping or running. Model opportunities for bedtime through showing them photos of your day together and asking them, “what are you doing here?”
Things to Remember When Encouraging Your Child to Talk
- Give praise when your child attempts verbal communication. Don’t correct your child, or ask them to repeat themselves. Instead, model the correct form of the word back.
- Use forced alternatives. For example, “do you want water or juice” or “are you playing with sand or the water.”
- Once your child is using lots of single word phrases, start modelling and building sentence starters for them, adding one word at a time. From one word phrases to two, then two to three-word phrases. For example, if your child is saying “car,” you could model back to them, “big car” or “red car.”
How Noala Can Help
If you’re needing a little extra guidance or advice, book a free 10 minute call at this link with our speech experts, for more tips and strategies or visit noala.co. We offer online speech therapy thanks to parent-led therapy plans. After setting up a baseline during an assessment, you’ll be able to access your personalised program, including interactive clinically-backed digital exercises and coaching videos from our Clinical Director.
Every week, you can book a coaching session with your dedicated Speech and Language Professional to review your progress and get tailored advice to help you reach your goals.