Now that you have the milestones for speech and language development, how can you, as a parent, help your child develop the skills they need to communicate effectively with those around them? Luckily, there are many simple things you can do throughout the day to help your child understand and learn to use words!
From the time your baby is born, one of the easiest, but admittedly also one of the more tiring things you can do is simply narrate your day to your child. What I mean by that is, as you do things throughout the day, talk about what you are doing, where you are going and even what you are thinking (ex. Mommy is going to do some laundry. Let's go get the dirty clothes. Mommy is carrying the hamper. First, Mommy puts the soap in the washer. Next, I put the clothes in the washer. Now let's close the lid. Mommy is turning the washer on.) I know this may sound a little crazy, but when talking to your baby or toddler, you are using lots of different sounds and words. When children hear lots of words and lots of different sounds and words, it improves their understanding of language. It also increases the number and variety of words that they understand and use. The more you talk to your baby or toddler, the better! Talking to children promotes their word learning by sharpening their ability to pay attention to and process new words quickly. However, it's also important to remember that babies and toddlers enjoy quiet time too. If your child stops responding to you and starts to look tired, restless or grumpy, you might want to take a break and choose another time of the day to continue talking.
Another thing you can do from the very start, is read to your child! Reading books with children helps develop their language skills by increasing their exposure to language. Stories that rhyme are also very helpful for teaching speech and language skills and can help children discover a love of language and engage his/her imaginations. When your child is a baby, choose books that are bright and colorful to grab their attention as you point to pictures in the books. As your child grows into a toddler, cloth or cardboard books are great so he/she can help turn the pages. Books that show lots of action are great for young children. Ask your child to point to familiar items and make the sounds that go with them. Say "Point to the cow" and "What sound does the cow make?"
These were just a couple ways that you can help your child to learn and understand speech and language. Stay tuned for my upcoming series on "Ways to Encourage Speech and Language Development."
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about how your child is doing or if you would like even more information on how to encourage speech and language development, please contact me.