During this time when all families are spending more time together at home, let’s look at some ways you can increase language throughout your day to promote your child’s development! Have you ever thought about how much language you can expose your child to just by narrating your daily activities? Whether your child is already talking or not there yet, they are absorbing all of that language and already building their vocabulary, language, and social skills.
Even if you regularly see a speech-language pathologist to gain support for your child’s language and speech development, the person who is interacting the most with your child is you! It’s important for you to build on these skills in the home environment everyday to really see them grow. We are going to discuss 3 main ways to increase language in your home: self-talk, parallel talk, and expansion.
Self-talk is when you narrate what YOU are doing in kid-friendly terms. Think of things that are part of your child’s daily routine: meals, bath time, getting dressed, play time, and more! Talk about those five senses of what you see, feel, hear, smell, and maybe even taste (especially during meal time).
During bath time: “Bubbles pop. Water splash. Soap on, rinse off. All done!”
Getting dressed: “I see a pink dress! Let’s put it on. First your head goes in, then arms. Now time for socks and shoes!"
Parallel talk is when you narrate what YOUR CHILD is doing, again in kid-friendly terms. A great time to use this strategy is while your child is playing! Play along with them while narrating their actions, and think about what they are seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, etc.
Playing with a train: “You have a blue train, the train goes ‘choo choo’! Ready, set, go train. You are pushing the train fast. Uh oh, crash! The train fell off the tracks.”
Expansion is building on what your child is saying little by little. If your child is talking, take what they said and add one more detail or expand to a more complete structure. It’s important to acknowledge their effort to engage with language!
Adding a detail: The child says “Car!” then you can reply with “Yes, red car!”
Adding structure: The child says “Car fast!” then you can reply with “Yes, the car goes fast!”
Using these strategies can help expose your child to more language every day! Some key things to remember are to build on your child’s interests and motivation, this is when they will be most engaged with you. Play is an important building block for all aspects of your child’s development, it’s fun to get on the ground and interact with them at their level. Lastly, remember that you don’t have to narrate your entire day like this, it’s important for your child to hear normal adult language as well.
Language can be easy and engaging in the home environment! Make the most of this time at home to connect with your child and family while having fun along the way. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Blog written by: Emily Dyer, MS, CF-SLP