The way you speak and interact with your child can definitely help when they’re developing their language skills. Here’s how.
By Chaya Rosman, CCC, SLP
This technique sounds too simple to work, however, its value is tremendous. Picture yourself going to a country with an unfamiliar language (for those that are not fluent in Hebrew, you experience this on any trip to Israel). If the people speak very slowly to you, it provides you with more time to process the language and thereby learn the language. When choosing a playgroup, it’s important to look out for the language skills of a Morah. Rate of speech is a significant indicator.
You’ve heard this many times, however, I’m not talking about reading the words that are printed in the children’s book. Use your own words. Use the book as a means of dialogue to discuss a topic. If you describe the picture scenes using your own words, you will naturally match the language level of the child, while trying to up the ante of comprehension somewhat.
A child’s play schemes provide us with a lot of information about the child‘s understanding of their world. Join and connect with their doll play while using language to facilitate continued play and language development.
Bring Them Along on Errands
Include your child in errands, so they are provided with an understanding of the function of the world around them. Each errand can be a springboard for language development as you describe why you are doing the specific errand. You are going to the cleaners because “Look, this coat is Mommy can’t put it in the washing machine. The people at the cleaners will make the coat clean. When it’s all clean we are going to pick it up and take it back home, so we can wear it.“
Words + Motion
Fingerplay, such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a great and exciting way to improve auditory memory in children. Our lives and school system require a lot of memorization. You can start honing this skill already by singing nursery rhymes with motions to add excitement. Yes, there is value in singing “The Wheels on the Bus.” If you usually walk holding hands with your toddler it’s a good idea to count the stairs as you are progressing. You can count until five and then start again from one. This will provide them with a foundation for counting with one to one correspondence.
Repeat After Me
Reciprocal vocalization of nonsense syllables is a great exercise for children that may be at risk for dyslexia. Mom says “Da” and child imitates. Mom says “Pa pa” and child imitates. Sometimes it’s one or two or three syllables that the child imitates. The child is conditioned to pay attention to the adult model and match the sound and the amount of syllables of the parents.
Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist Chaya Rosmarin CCC-SLP is a Kean University graduate and is in practice for 13 years. Her primary focus is language, speech, and feeding therapy for children ages six and younger. She supervises the language program in an early intervention program and provides language therapy in a special needs school in Lakewood.