Talking and listening to young children from an early age helps them develop good listening and language skills. It also helps them learn and develop good relationships with people.
Talking to your child can fit easily into everyday life. Talk about the things you see when you’re on a walk or doing the housework. Chat to your child during play and meal times. Say a nursery rhyme before going to bed or in the car on the way home.
You don’t need to be an expert. Talking and playing with your child is good for them and makes life easier for you. All you need is time together to play and chat about what’s going on in the here and now. Make it a conversation. If your child makes a mistake when they say a sentence, just repeat it back in the right way so they hear how adults talk. Sometimes, when we ask children lots of questions it can feel like it’s a test. Instead, comment on what they are doing and what is happening.
As your child’s speech is developing they are learning new words and language through looking, listening and playing. Here are some handy tips in areas that help your child to develop strong language skills:
Attention & Listening
Your Child: “I listen to stories, and want you to read my favourite story. I can answer “who”, “what” and “where” questions”
Tip: You may be really busy but your child still needs some quiet time with you to help them listen and learn.
Play & Chat
Your Child: “I have a conversation with you but it doesn’t always make sense so I still need you to help me to tell my story”
Tip: Let your child look at you when you’re talking and always give your child a chance to talk, conversation is so important.
Your Child: “My understanding is growing and people often think I understand everything but I still have a lot to learn”
Tip: Talk and look at books as much as you can with your child, they need to learn up to 8 new words every day.
Your Child: “My sentences are getting longer with up to 4 words but I don’t always say sentences the way adults do”
Tip: Help your child to use more words by adding to what they’ve said e.g. if they say “ball” you might say, “yes, a red ball” or if they say “I want my teddy” you might say, “here’s your soft brown teddy”.
Your Child: “Strangers understand me more now but I still can’t say lots of sounds and sometimes I stumble over my words”
Tip: Young children may stumble over their words because they have so much to say but don’t worry other children do this too.
This article is provided by Little Voices. Little Voices is the oral language strand of the ABC Start Right Limerick project. The aim of Little Voices is to improve outcomes in oral language development and pre-literacy skills in children aged 0 – 4 years. Little Voices is led by Speech and Language Therapists who work closely with parents, families and staff in the North side and city centre communities of Limerick. Little Voices focuses on developing a collaborative and universal approach that engages children through the implementation of various training, mentoring supports and parent programmes.