Learning how to communicate is an important milestone for children to reach. By learning how to communicate, children are able to express themselves, which reduces frustrations they can have by not being able to properly explain their feelings and needs. All children learn at their own pace, but there are ways for families to help encourage speech development.
Then there are many different types of activities to help encourage language development.
- Even if your child is just making babbling or cooing noises, you can still talk with them. Speak to them and give them the opportunity to respond. This will help them understand the flow of a conversation. Throughout the day, tell them what is happening and what you’re doing. If you’re going for a walk, point out the trees and colors. Tell them elaborate, fun stories that revolve around things that interest them. Exposure to sounds and words will help them develop their vocabulary even before they are able to speak.
- And read some more. Children love to hear and read their favorite stories, sing their favorite songs or watch their favorite movies over, and over again. Although families may have listened to their child’s favorite musical one too many times, the repetition helps your children recognize words.
- Try sign language. American Sign Language has many benefits for young children, especially when it comes to helping them learn how to express themselves sooner. According to research, babies as young as six or seven months old can remember signs and by eight months they can begin to sign single words and imitate gestures. The use of sign language has proven to be beneficial for children in a wide variety of settings. Teaching sign language to preverbal babies has proven to benefit children in their later years. Research shows that sign language speeds up speech development, reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves before they know how to talk, increases parent-child bonding, and lets babies communicate vital information, such as if they are hurt or hungry.
- Listen and sing to music. Children love to sing and dance to music and listening to music provides them more opportunities to be exposed to language and learn about different sounds the names of different things. If they have a favorite tune such as songs about farm animals, use their toys or a farm-themed book to point out the different animals and objects that are also mentioned in the song.
- Visit places. Children will love visiting new places such as a science center, zoo or aquarium to see new things. While visiting, point out and name all of the objects and creatures they are exploring.
- Plan playdates. Get together with family or friends who have children around the same age and allow them to interact and play with each other. This gives them the opportunity to practice talking with other children who have about the same level of communication skills.