The toddler years are the best years . Your little ones are learning SO MUCH every day and it is so amazing to watch. They are discovering their world around them and learning how to maneuver it. This time of development is also huge in terms of speech and language development.
From babbling babies to talkative toddlers, learning to talk is a big leap for your little ones. In order to help your child boost their language skills it is important to get into the habit of speaking more with them everyday. Here are 7 things you can do to increase the amount you talk with them:
#1 Describe everything
Talk, talk, talk. Explain where you are, what you are doing, where you are going, what you can see. No small detail is futile. Describe life as a toddler may see it. Describe what toddlers are interested in. “Oh a dog. Look at the dog. Isn’t he cute? It is a small dog. It is a black dog. Have you seen it?” Just like that you have provided them with the word “dog” 4 times in about a second or two.
#2 Tell them stories
See something or someone in the street and imagine a little story around the object or the person. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or complicated. “Look a lady with a basket. Maybe she is going to the market. Maybe she is going to buy bananas like we just did. Do you think she likes bananas?” You can do the same with their toys, a piece of clothing, a broom, anything.
#3 Ask them questions
Even if they cannot reply yet, ask the questions. Put plenty of intonation into it so they understand it is a question, a response is required. Give them a few seconds and answer yourself if they don’t reply. You are giving them the chance to think about it and formulate the answer, think of the words they know and can use. If you never ask questions (fun questions, not telling-off kind of questions) they will never get a chance to tell you things. “Have you seen the plane in the sky? Isn’t it going really fast? What sound do planes make? Do you remember when we went on the plane?”
#4 Be positive
Talking and speaking is not just about giving orders or telling them off. Make speaking fun and positive. Tell them about happy things. Don’t just use language as a tool to discipline. Talking should also be about cuddles and kisses and bonding not just shouting. Give your child plenty of positive reinforcement too. Whenever they say even the slightest little thing, confirm it, repeat it, add to it. For example, if they say dog, reply by saying: “yes, it is a dog. It is a brown dog. It is a big dog. Can you see more dogs?”.
#5 Baby talk not necessary
Give credit where it is due. Talking in baby talk “look at the moo” will not work. It is a cow. Let’s call it that. The whole world calls it that. Why would you call it a moo? Sure the cow does moo but it is not its name. Children understand a lot more than we think from a very early stage. There is no point in dumbing down the conversations. Use simple but real language.
It has been shown that non-verbal communication also matters hugely to children’s understanding. Think about you learning a second language. Is it not helpful to see people gesture at the same time as they talk? So point, shake, wave, dance, do whatever is needed to help them learn those early words and beyond. Make a fool of yourself. Who cares?!
Finally, give them a chance to reply and speak. I know plenty of people who never give their child a chance to respond. They have given them the answer or done it for them. Stop. Listen. They will tell you amazing things.