According to numerous studies, children who are spoken to and read to from a very young age grow up to have excellent language skills. Not only do these children exhibit better verbal skills, but they grow up to have better grammar and written skills across the board. That’s why, as parents, it’s essential that we spend time developing our child’s language skills from a very young age.
In this week’s article, we explore six simple ways to help encourage your baby’s vocabulary and language skills. Go ahead and take a look.
One great and easy way to keep the conversation going is to simply narrate you and your baby’s activity throughout the day. While you make your baby’s lunch, or put on her jacket, or fold clothes, talk about it out loud. ‘Here we are, heating up your lunch now. It’s going to be delicious, isn’t it?’ Although this might seem a bit one-sided, it’s a great way to keep talking and to continually introduce your little one to new words.
2) Naming Objects in your Environment
From about 6 months old and onwards, your baby will be able to follow your gaze. You should draw on this ability to help your baby identify certain objects. Spend some time each day pointing out specific objects and saying their names aloud. This will also help build your little one’s vocabulary and encourage her to start saying these names out loud. Pretty soon, you’ll notice her mimicking your words.
3) Read, Read, Read
Read, read, read. Reading storybooks and other interactive books is a great way to boost your baby’s language skills. Be energetic and visual when you read, by pointing out different objects and characters, saying their names slowly and aloud, and providing fun sound effects.
You don’t need to restrict yourself to children’s books, however. If you’ve got a novel you’ve been dying to get back to, but can’t find the time, why not try sneak a few pages in by reading it aloud to your little one?
4) Listening to your Baby
While engaging in consistent conversation with your little one is important, remember to give your baby time to respond. All too often, we forget to give our babies or toddlers a turn when it comes to talking. Although, in the beginning, it will be fairly limited - it’s important that you give them a chance to try and say those words. By paying attention to - and encouraging their efforts - you’ll find your little one will start chatting in no time.
5) Conversations Are a Two-Way Street
Not only is it important to give your baby his or turn when talking, it’s important to try and instill this notion of the ‘give and take’ of conversations more generally. So how do you do this? One great way to do this, particularly in the very early stages of talking, is to ask yourself questions and answer them yourself.
For example: ‘what time is the shop closed today?’ ‘It’s going to close at 6pm.’ Or: ‘what ingredients do we need to prepare lunch?’ ‘We need some fresh bread, some cheddar cheese, and salad’. Although this might seem a bit odd at first, it will help instill the two-sidedness of conversations.
6) Listening Skills
Another great way to boost your baby’s vocabulary - as well as encourage her listening skills - is to pay attention to the sounds in your environment. If you’re out in the park for a stroll, encourage your baby or toddler to pay attention to the sounds of birds, or dogs barking, or other distinct sounds. Point to your ear, and in the direction of the bird chirping, and say clearly and distinctly: ‘bird’. Encourage your little one to try and repeat the word after you. Although it might start out as unintelligible sounds, it’s a good start.
So there you go. Get chatting everyone.