Young children’s oral skills grow rapidly in the first few years, particularly if you have babies and toddlers. Early language acquisition happens quite naturally as they grow although it’s important to note that each child will talk at their own pace.
In saying this, there are many strategies and techniques that can be adapted by parents and incorporated into your daily routine to help your child’s language development and get them talking earlier.
Exposing children to new vocabulary through repetition and consistency is the key to getting them to talk early. Here are some other tips to assist children’s early verbal development:
1. Build opportunities to communicate with children constantly:
Try to limit baby talk and babbling to your child and instead replace it with everyday language. The more conversations you have with your children, the more your child is interacting and exposed to new vocabulary.
If you see your child respond, it’s important to acknowledge, praise and motivate them to express themselves further. You should also try to involve your little ones into your daily routine as much as possible and try to turn it into a fun learning experience for them.
2. Open-Ended Toys and Materials
There is no set way to use open-ended materials instead, they offer multiple possibilities. Some examples of open-ended materials are Lego, play-doh, water and paints.
Children are not limited in any way when exploring these types of toys, which fosters language development and allows them to find newer and more creative ways to use the materials.
3. Read to children, EVERYDAY!
There are countless benefits of reading and storytelling. Children can develop their early literacy skills by reading about a vast range of topics and phrases that are often not spoken in their day-to-day lives.
You may even choose to introduce bilingual books to your children to develop their cultural awareness and teach them an additional language.
Storytelling stimulates children’s imagination, and picture books can be a great way to bond with your little one! Just pick a cosy spot in the house, such as a couch or beanbag and make it a part of their bedtime routine.
4. Socialising with others
It is evident through research that social interaction plays a crucial role in children’s language advancement. Children will gain self-esteem and confidence as they interact with other children.
Learning conversation skills such as eye contact and gestures also allow children to communicate better.
Try to organise play dates or trips to the park with your infant or toddler! This can be an excellent way for children to interact with others and build meaningful relationships through positive interactions!
5. Music and Rhymes
A fun and interactive way of learning language is through music, rhymes and movement. They provide children with a wonderful opportunity to express themselves more creatively.
Singing new words makes it a lot easier for children to recall! You might even notice your little ones using sounds from songs such as “Old McDonald Had a Farm” or “Five Little Ducks” because words are continuously repeated in each verse.
Action songs such as “Incy Wincy Spider” or “Hokey Pokey” promote hand-eye coordination as children have to connect words associated with the actions.
6. Getting involved in children’s play
During the early years, play is one of the main ways children learn new ideas and abilities. Adults can get involved in play to model and informally teach children new skills.
Engaging in pretend play with children provides valuable opportunities for discussions supporting children in learning new vocabulary.
You can also ask questions such as “what colour is this” or “what sound does this animal make” to facilitate conversations with your children. Adults can even scaffold and model play so children can learn new ideas.
7. Limit Screen time
Although screen time may often seem the perfect solution to keep children occupied for a while, it may have a detrimental impact in the long run. It’s important to understand that TV and tablet apps may teach children certain concepts and skills, but it is a passive way of learning, so children aren’t actually interacting and participating from their side.
According to research presented in 2017 by the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting, children who regularly watch screen time before talking may be at higher risk for speech delays.
Overall, these tips are sure to assist your baby in talking early, but you must remain consistent with your methods. If you have any concerns with your child’s language development, it is best to consult a professional for better clarity.