How to encourage my little one’s language development

Children learn 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 specifically 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 daughter will increase her vocabulary and help her practice speaking in sentences. Talk during every day routines like when running errands together or taking a walk outside.
  • When talking, encourage your child to share her 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 her words with more words. Help your little one build her sentences. For example, if she says “Go play!”. You can respond and say “Yes, let’s go play! Do you want to go outside?”.
  • Get your daughter to do things by herself and try new tasks while you coach her through it. For example, you can ask her to help you put away her clean laundry.
  • Tell your child stories. Whether you’re reading a book she chose, or you’re just making up a story as you go, include details like when and where is the story going on 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.

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