In college, I vaguely remember taking a course in linguistics all about language development in children. Today, I’m raising a young toddler eager to talk, but have forgotten anything useful I once learned. (Mom brain is real and long lasting, folks!)
In the spirit of the new school year and new opportunities to learn, I consulted a few of my favorite speech gurus to help find activities to improve my son’s language development.
Here’s 5 simple ways to boost language development from infancy into the elementary years:
- Talk Through Directions – In the early months I felt a little ridiculous doing this with a baby, but do it anyway! Talk through your recipe as you cook a meal, verbalize your toddler’s morning routine, go through the car wash and talk through the actions, etc.
- Make Noises – There’s several great noise puzzles with animals or vehicles. My son also enjoys using sound blocks. Once again, it feels silly to constantly assign noises to objects, but it’s an essential building block for language development.
- Use Gestures – If your toddler hasn’t picked up as many words as you had hoped, pay close attention to the gestures he or she uses. Pointing and other gestures are a great sign of language development. Use body language yourself to help promote this important milestone. Play a game of “imitate and add” where you copy your child’s gestures and assign a word to the movement. Encourage them to mimic as you add short, simple phrases.
- Repetitive Books – You likely already know that reading plays an essential role in language development. Repetitive books can be a useful tool in the early years and beyond. One of our favorite examples of a repetitive text is “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” by Eric Carle. Here’s a whole list to get you started.
- Cause and Effect – This can be taught during simple activities you’re already doing. Try blowing bubbles with your child, have them use a gesture or word before you blow the bubbles. Model the cause and effect relationship – having an exciting reward works wonders here! When you purchase new toys select ones, like this, that promote cause and effect thinking.
Favorite App Award : We’ve discovered this cute series of “100 First Words” apps – you’ve probably seen the popular children’s book that coordinates. There’s animal and people word apps, but we especially enjoy the vehicle words app