Parents often ask, "What can I do to help my child's speech and language development?" The answer? TALK with your child! Every time you talk with or in front of your child, you are actually teaching them to communicate. Make sure you are interacting with your child and talking with them as much as possible, all throughout the day. Here are a few specific things you can do as you interact:
💚 MODEL LANGUAGE - give your child examples of words and phrases they could say. Modeling is one of the BEST ways to foster speech and language development!
💚 RESPOND to all communication attempts, even if they are using facial expressions, gestures, or behaviors to communicate. You can assign meaning to what they are doing and layer the language on top of the interaction. Say things like "I see you reaching for the car; here's the car!" or "ohh you look mad, you do NOT LIKE that!"
💚 EXTEND what they say into longer phrases or sentences. For example, if your child points at a toy dinosaur and says, "Dinosaur," you can extend that word into a whole sentence, "Yes, that's a dinosaur!" or "I see the dinosaur!" These models will help build upon what your child can already do and give them examples for more advanced communication.
💚EXPAND what your child says by showing them different ways to use a word or phrase. You can build in more complex language like descriptive vocabulary or longer phrases/sentences. For example, if they say, "Dinosaur," you can first EXTEND that into a whole sentence like, "Yes, I see the dinosaur!" Then you can EXPAND that into other sentences like, The dinosaur is big and he can ROAR. Roar, roar dinosaur!"
💚 IMPORTANT: Avoid telling your child "Say...." and hoping they follow your command. Instead, just model the words that they could say themselves. Instead of telling your child "Do you want the book? Say 'WANT BOOK!' " try modeling for them the exact words that they could say. For example, "Oh, book...I want the book!" This way you are providing the most accurate models for your child and focusing on the communication, rather than on telling them what to do.
These key strategies will help your child gain valuable exposure to speech sounds, vocabulary, and communication, and will also give them confidence in their communication attempts. Try these strategies today!
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