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May Blog 2022: Language, Language, Language.

May 15, 2022

Language, Language, Language

 

Encouraging language development

The pandemic has not been the child’s friend. It has delayed many children’s speech and language development. With more time at home, it has been difficult to maintain the different levels of verbal communication that a child encounters.

There is no point weeping over spilt milk, so, how do we address this? Moving forward, what can we do to encourage the development of speech and language?

Whether your child can talk yet or not, it’s important to continue talking with them. Research has shown that the number of words children hear in their first days, months and years have a huge impact on their development in later life.

Brain building

Following the child’s lead is important in terms of brain development, and the development of language. Children developing a sense that what is going on in their mind is interesting and important. It motivates them to learn actively and engagingly rather than by repetition or simply hearing words spoken.

Therefore, we should notice what the child is interested in, following what they are doing. Be curious.

Involving children in activities that they show interest in.

Serve and return

An “environment of relationships” is crucial for the development of a child’s brain. This early development lays the foundation for later outcomes such as academic success, mental health, and social interactions.

A child’s “serve and return” interaction with adults provides experiences that are unique to the child’s personality. These interactions build on their interests, capabilities, and initiative as well as shaping the child’s self-awareness and stimulate the growth of their heart and mind.

Giving children choices

By giving a child the choice between two different activities, gives them a sense of control in what they are doing and builds their confidence.

There will be much that is outside of a child’s control and worrying/frightening, it can support wellbeing and promote resilience to give children some choices in the things that can be controlled.

For example, you could ask them ‘would you like to use the brush or hold the dustpan?’, or to offer them age-appropriate responsibilities so that they feel there is something they can contribute.

It is important to offer praise for the things that are done, as well as letting them know that mistakes are not a bad thing.

Early Communication Activities

There are many activities that can encourage communication, so listed are just a few you could try:

 

Washing clothes

There’s a novelty in watching the washing machine go round – this is a perfect opportunity to involve children in the process.

A trip to the laundrette would even be more exciting.

  • Watching the washing machine go round – pointing out each person’s clothing
  • Feeling the vibration as it spins
  • Making sounds with the vibration
  • Sorting the washing into colours and naming items of clothing
  • Folding the clean laundry
  • Putting away – ‘who’s socks are these?’

Recycling

Sorting out boxes and bottles into the recycling can be an opportunity to talk about what’s on the box, what happens to recycling and why it’s important.

  • Vocabulary – ‘all gone’, ‘empty’
  • Building with empty packages
  • Stacking
  • Sorting materials – plastic, paper etc
  • Colours of recycling bins
  • Sizes of packages

 

Tidying up

Tidying up is great preparation for life!

  • Naming
  • Sorting – these go together
  • Counting
  • Colours

Extra tips:

When naming items, for example when washing up or tidying up, start with things they child has heard before or can say themselves. Add in new items one at a time. Lots of repetition from you will help the child learn new names.

Sharing books together. Characters doing similar activities can help you talk more. ‘Do you remember when we read about Maisie tidying up?’

If the child isn’t keen to join in with the activity, don’t give up. You can still talk about what you are doing. Make a commentary as you are doing the activity. “Let’s see how many socks there are here – 1,2,3… If we put them into the washing machine now.” “When we take them out, they will be nice and clean”.

Importance of Play

Never underestimate the power of play to encourage development in every area of the curriculum.

Play is a very important activity in the development of speech and language skills. Early pretend play sometimes revolves around a favourite teddy bear or doll.

Encourage the child to give the teddy a drink, brush his hair, wash his nose, put him to bed etc and to tell you what he/she is doing, e.g., ‘teddy bed’, ‘teddy drink’.

Do not put too much pressure on the child to always talk. Remember, talking is a two-way process and in each of the activities suggested, it is best if you take your turn too, with talking and taking part in activities.

Always accept a child’s attempt at words, showing you have understood before repeating the word correctly.

Have fun!