Check out the latest early language development blog post courtesy of Rachel Keeney.
In this blog post we will highlight three ways to help build your child’s language skills and highlight some community resources to support you. These three strategies can be used with babies and children from birth and beyond. It is never too early!
1. Talking. Talking with your baby or child is one of the best ways to help build communication skills. It may seem silly talking to a baby who can’t respond in words yet, but if you pay close attention, you may see the baby respond with vocal cues and face/body movements. Success! This is your baby communicating and by responding sensitively, you are helping him/her understand the world.
• Narrate what you are doing throughout the day. Making dinner, folding laundry, driving in the car, grocery shopping – all of these are great opportunities to build vocabulary and help your baby/child understand what is happening around him.
2. Reading. It is never too early to start reading to a child. By helping your child to enjoy books, you are laying the foundation for her language development. The more words that your child hears the better. Reading books can also help children understand big changes in their lives. When my family was expecting our second child, the Youth Services librarians at Transylvania County Library helped me find a whole stack of books to read with my daughter. The illustrations and characters helped her to understand what was happening in a way that I could not have done with words alone.
• By downloading the article in this link, you’ll find some tips on what kind of books your baby/young child might find interesting.
• Would you like to receive a FREE BOOK EVERY SINGLE MONTH until your child is five years old DELIVERED in the mail? Register your child/children for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library! Some of my daughter’s favorite books she received for FREE from this program. Click here for more information and for the link to register.
3. Singing. Singing and playing music with your child is a great way to build language skills. For babies, try singing songs that also include hand movements (like Itsy, Bitsy spiders). Young toddlers may enjoy listening to music from other cultures or songs with more words to improve their vocabularies. If you have been singing a song to your child, try leaving off the last word and see if he/she fills it in! For example, “Twinkle, twinkle, little ______” You may be surprised to hear him hit the correct note! Older children might enjoy songs that tell a story; these songs help children understand sequences of an event. They may enjoy acting out part of the song as well.
• Singing songs during transitions (like leaving the park or cleaning up toys) can often make these challenging times less stressful (aka less tantrum-prone) and more predictable for a child. For example, if you sing the same song “Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share” every time you are picking up toys, your child may learn to expect that when I hear this song, it is time to clean up!
• Check out Transylvania County Library’s Hullabaloo and Out and About Hullabaloo to pick up some great ideas from your local librarians. The librarians will read books with the children but also sing songs and rhymes. Children will also benefit from the opportunity to socialize with the other youngsters.
• Need some ideas for songs? In the resource packet provided in this month’s toolkit, there is a great playlist of songs that you can download FOR FREE from Spotify.
Here is a comprehensive list of ways to support your baby/child’s language development.
Side note: As I was doing some research for this month’s blog post, I found a helpful article about whining…which, for better or for worse, is a type of communication and sometimes the only way a toddler or young child knows how to communicate. The article emphasizes that whining is a very normal young child behavior, but as a parent it can be infuriating, annoying, and press every one of our buttons (maybe that’s just me!). The article explains why children whine and what parents can do in the moment. Check it out here.