The language skills of toddlers vary widely. Some speak in complete sentences while others are still using single words. Much of the variation is simply due to temperament and individual development, but a child’s language skills are also influenced by his or her environment and adult stimulation. Here are a few ideas to use with normal-developing toddlers and with older children who have delayed language skills:
- -Call out action words for the child to follow: sit, jump, kneel, walk, stop…
-Sing action songs with your child–”Where is Thumbkin?”, “Ring Around the Rosie,” “London Bridge,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and so on. A favorite of
my children was “Wheels on the Bus.” I know I sang it hundreds of times with them! I am a big fan of incorporating music and language. And on a related note...the children's show,
"Barney," is wonderful for blending music, experience, and language. I'm not in favor of young children watching much television, but "Barney" is one show that I thought was wonderful for
- -Play hide and seek with objects. Let the child see you hide the object, then ask, “Where is ___?” and have him find it. Then hide the object without the child watching, but leave it partly exposed. This will help him become familiar with new vocabulary.
- -Make scrapbooks of different types of items–food, animals, action words, and so on, cutting pictures from magazines. Pages could also be made for adjectives–cold, smooth, pretty, etc. Older children can help with the cutting and/or gluing.
- -Have the child follow two-part commands. “Turn around, then clap your hands.” “Run to the kitchen and pick up a spoon.” Then work up to three-part commands.
- -Spread picture cards showing different categories across the table. Ask your child to “find all the things we eat” or “find all the animals.”
- -Require the child to use his best language when he wants something. “More.” “Cookie, please.” or “I want to read a story.”
- -Expand upon the child’s utterances. If he says, “cookie,” say “Want cookie, please.” Just hearing the expanded form of his phrase will encourage him to expand it next time.
- -Teach body parts and pronouns by naming, “my nose,” “your nose,” and so on. Ask, “Whose neck is this?’ Model the correct answer if this is difficult for the child
- -Talk to your child! Explain what you are doing. Explain his world to him. Have him help you with simple chores while you talk. Ask him questions.
Above all, spend quality time with your child, reading to him or her and talking about your daily life. Adult interaction is key to developing language skills!
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