Adults typically say between 15,000 to 16,000 words per day but developing children start off with about 50 words by the age of 2, and it increases from there. How do we get from 50 words to 16,000?
By listening, observing and imitating!
Did you know that we can create language rich spaces at home involving daily tasks? Here are some daily tasks that can be made to encourage language development
- Cooking with your child. Imagine you are running a cooking show and your child is the audience. Talk about every ingredient, its texture, it’s taste and temperature. Make funny sounds when something is slippery and call it slimy. Allow your child to cook with you and if they are too young, allow them to have a bowl with some of the ingredients to play and feel part of activity with you
- Reading with your child. Books come in all shapes and sizes. We assume reading means looking at solely books but this is not the case. Look at paintings and pictures and talk about the colours, shapes, animals, textures and what they look like. Even when reading books, try to not focus on the words for very young children. Instead, focus on the pictures. Allow your child to explore what they see and give them words for the things they are fascinated with.
- Singing with your child. Nursery rhymes have been used to learn for years simply because they work. Children are mesmerised by sounds, songs and movement. Sing songs that rhyme and have actions with your child whenever you can. The tones in the song teaches them intonation, the rhyming helps with literacy as they grow older and the movements help with developing co-ordination and direction following.
- Play with your child. Children want nothing more than the attention of those they love. Play simple games such as hide and seek, Simon Says and I-Spy with your young children and with older children play board games such as Snakes and Ladders, Ludo and even Jenga. These games promote conversation and joint attention but also allows children to turn take and engage in social participation.
- Talk, talk, talk to your child. Even in the womb, babies are listening to your voices and recognising sounds. Children listen to everything you have to say and learn so much even from incidental language (things being spoken around them, but not to them). So, whenever with your child, talk about what you are seeing/feeling and how others may be feeling. Ask them questions about what may be about to happen or what you think will happen. Do this even when your child is a baby without expressive language as they are most certainly listening and learning.
Using these strategies will help to boost your child’s language development and get that word count up, the more interaction and engagement, the more they will learn! Children learn best in their natural environment, and so they do best learning from you in their home.