In addition to speech therapy, there are so many ways to bring that work home and implement it in your daily lives and interactions with your child. So, here are three quick tips explaining some ways to increase your child’s speech and language development at home.
Tip #1: Increase Socialization with Peers
Socialization is so important!
I often ask families, “How often does your child spend time with other kids?” Hopefully, their response is, “A couple times each week.”
Children learn so much from socializing with other children. If you’re thinking, “Hmm, I haven’t been doing that,” well, you can! I’ll help you find some ideas—like spontaneous or organized meetups!
There are meetup groups like Mommy and Me, Daddy and Me, or Daddy Daycare. You can look for these groups in your area, start making some friends, and set up some playdates. If that’s not your style, you can try going to a park with your child and making some friends with fellow parents there. Find a parent there and strike up a conversation: ask them how old their kid is if they live nearby if they would be interested in setting up a playdate, etc.
Helping your child develop friendships in this way can be extremely beneficial for the child, especially if the other children are talking, socializing, and interacting a little bit more than your child currently is. Your child will learn so much from this. Actually, kids can learn a lot more from other kids than from adults.
This isn’t just good for the children—it’s fantastic for the parents, too. It’s important to get to know other parents and share in all the parental experiences together.
Tip #2: Increase Exposure to Language Activities & Play
Children playing together also teaches them problem-solving skills and social skills. When a toy breaks, the child is then faced with the challenge of figuring out what to say or what to demonstrate through gestures and facial expressions. These situations prompt them to use both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
Outside of these socialization opportunities, it’s important to expose your child to other language activities and language play.
These activities include songs, books, and playing on the floor with your child. This means face-to-face, interactive play, such as:
- While rolling a ball back and forth on the ground, say, “One, two, three—go!”
- Play peek-a-boo and ask questions such as, “Where’s Mommy? Boo!”
- The “Where’s your nose?” game.
Specifically, interactive “where” games are really great for children developing language and language skills.
Children should be identifying body parts at a pretty young age. Remember that children learn through imitation and promptings, so the only way they will actively identify them, though, is if they’re asked to.
If you are looking for some resources to interactively use with your child, check out libraries for cardboard books or other local organizations that allow you to borrow toys. So, even if finances are tight, there are many organizations out there that will help provide you with interactive resources to use with your child!
Singing songs together is another really great way to engage your child and help with language development. There are gazillions of free songs online.
But that leads me to…
Tip #3: Avoid Too Much Screen Time
Screens are so useful in our everyday lives, and they can really help children learn, too. They can learn language and concepts through videos, games, etc.
We are, however, finding in research that too much screen time really is not good for kids. It’s really not an ideal way for their brains to develop, especially for the young ones. So, while screens are convenient, they’re most effective when an adult is interacting with the child at that moment.
Try using the tablet as a tool rather than the subject of their focus. Face the child, pause periodically, and ask questions.
Psychologists are finding that, ideally, children will have less than an hour of screen time a day. This includes phones, tablets, movies, and TV. One hour. Outside of that one hour of screen time, they should be involved in real play. Real, live interaction—with real people.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to help you learn how to help your toddler communicate, then check out my online course.