Your child learns about language through everyday moments with you, their caregiver. Reading books, engaging in conversations, and playing help, but what can you do specifically to support your little one’s language development?
Language skills start developing very early. From birth, babies communicate through sounds and facial expressions. Then they move on to babbling and doing gestures, like pointing to what they want. Babies don’t need to be formally taught anything, they learn through imitation and back and forth interactions with their caregivers.
This is also true for early language and literacy skills, they are best learned through everyday moments. Here’s what you can do at home:
- Beginning with the most obvious, but probably the most important one: talk together. Talking with your little one will increase their vocabulary and help them practice speaking in sentences. Talk during every day routines: when running errands together or taking a walk outside.
- When talking, encourage your child to share their point of view by asking open-ended questions that require more than a “yes/no” answer. For example, if you see a bird take flight you could say, “Look at that bird fly! Where do you think it’s going?”.
- Respond to their words with more words. Help your little one build their sentences. For example, if they say “Go play!”. You can respond and say “Yes, let’s go play! Do you want to go outside?”.
- Get your child to do things by themselves and try new tasks while you coach them through it. For example, you can ask them to help you put away the clean laundry.
- Tell them stories. Whether you’re reading a book they chose, or you’re just making up a story as you go, include details like when and where is the story happening and who is involved.
- Get rhyming! Whether you’re making up rhymes, singing a song, or reading a poem together, rhymes train children’s ears to hear the specific sounds that make up words, an important step for literacy development.