The best and easiest way to develop language in your child is to get down on the floor and PLAY with them!! Play is pleasurable to most kids and can be spontaneous or structured. Play involves active participation and helps to establish joint attention (attend to the same items or topics the child is focusing on) with your child. Play leads to ideas about the environment and expands upon what you child already knows about and enjoys. Finally, play helps your child adapt to the needs of others by learning social rules and roles of people in their home and community.
When you are playing with your child, be sure to provide a variety of language models for your child to imitate during play rather than asking a lot of questions. For example,
- Comment on his/her actions
- Use self-talk – talk about what YOU are doing, seeing, or thinking with the child (i.e. “I’m stirring the soup.”)
- Use parallel-talk – talk about what your CHILD is doing (i.e. “Kelly is rocking her baby.”)
- Use expansions and elaborations – listen to your child’s short utterance and then expand on it to let the child know that he/she was understood. (i.e. “Soup hot.”, “Yes, your soup is very hot.”)
Always be sure to reinforce all communication attempts made by your child so that he/she feels successful. Speak on your child’s level by using a sentence length that is equal to one word more than theirs. When playing and throughout your day, talk about objects and activities that are present AND absent. Imitate your child’s movements and vocalizations and encourage him/her to imitate things that you say and do. Label, label, label objects and actions frequently. Above all else, have fun. Your child will know that you are having fun and will respond to your excitement. Remember – kids are only young once!! ENJOY!!