From an early age, parents have a huge impact on their children’s language and speech development. As speech therapists, we get asked all the time: “How do I get my child to talk?” or “What can I do at home to help facilitate talking?” To help parents, Westside has put together a “bag of tricks” to practice at home.
Many times we think that because children are so little that they don’t communicate with us. This is a misconception. Even at birth, children are communicating by laughing, smiling, crying, and making gestures towards parents. Parents can use the techniques below to begin fostering language development for their children.
Ideas for 0-2 Year Olds
(1) Talk and play with your baby as much as you can. Children learn language through play and imitation of others. Say simple sounds like “mama”, “dada,” and “baba.” While children cannot process long sentences, they can process basic commands and words. Engage with your baby and imitate their actions. They will soon learn the meaning of different gestures and movements based on your response. Here are some common ways to productively engage with your baby:
Play games with them such as peek-a-boo and or patty cake. This fosters gross and fine motor movements while incorporating speech development skills.
Talk to your baby as you bath, feed, and dress them. Talk about what you are doing, where you are going, etc. – all of this helps them learn daily routines.
Point out colors and shapes and count items when you are playing.
Talk about animal sounds; this helps your baby connect the sound and the animal. Use words like “The dog says woof-woof.”
Use an expansion of phrases by adding on to what your baby says. When your baby says, “Mama“, respond with a sentence that expands on that initial vocalization. A good response would be: “Here is Mama. Mama loves you.”
(2) Use the “OWL strategy”- Observe, Wait, Listen. Follow the child’s lead. What a child looks at is what they are interested in, and if they are interested in it, they are more likely to talk about it. Avoid saying “SAY…” Instead, model what you want them to say. Get your child to imitate you. If they imitate your actions, they will learn to imitate your sounds and words!
(3) Read to your child. Choose books that are sturdy and have large colorful pictures. You don’t have to read every word in the book, but talk about the pictures. Ask your child things like “What’s this?” and try to get the child to point to or name objects.