14 Steps to Prevent Language Delay in Young Children
During the height of the global pandemic and as schools and daycare centres shut their doors, playdates were cancelled, and parents were where thrown in at the deep end when suddenly having to juggle working from home, virtual schooling, and a variety of responsibilities.
It's now looking increasingly likely some of us will be plunged back into various forms of restriction meaning families will once again be asked to stay at home and having to make adjustments to their children's routines to make up for the fact that they will be missing out on not only peer interactions and social skills but also crucial language development.
The secret to boosting your child's language abilities whilst being at home is simple: minimise access to technology, simulate/model language, and getting your hands dirty!
Play-based interactions are the most effective approach for youngsters to learn, and many items in your home may be repurposed to give them that experience.
1. Verbally model for them
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to verbally model language.
Speak in complete sentences, use proper grammar, and enunciate clearly. This will help your child develop strong language skills.
2. Point things out
When you are out and about, point out interesting things and talk about them. For example, "Look at that big truck!
The wheels are so big! I wonder how it drives." or "The flowers are so pretty! They're so red!" Talking about what you see helps to increase your child's vocabulary.
3. Incorporate Songs and Nursery Rhymes
Songs and nursery rhymes are a great way to introduce new vocabulary words in a and engaging way.
Singing also helps your child develop their language skills and increases your bond.
4. Use proper pronunciation
If you don't want to introduce new vocabulary words, make sure that you pronounce the existing ones correctly.
This will help your child learn better pronunciation and it may also encourage them to use these words more frequently.
5. Expose them to language in context
Books can be a great way to expose your child to new vocabulary words and increase their word retrieval accuracy.
Make sure that they are age appropriate; young children should not be expected to read chapter books with 200 pages of text!
6. Increase vocabulary word frequency in conversations
Whenever possible, try and say what you mean. Use specific vocabulary words instead of vague terms such as "thing" or "stuff". For example, instead of saying "Get the stuff from the kitchen," say "Get the fruit from the counter."
7. Lose the technology
It is important to minimise your child's exposure to technology as much as possible.
Television, tablets, smartphones, and other devices can all be detrimental to language development.
Too much screen time can lead to shortened attention spans, delayed language development, and a number of other issues.
8. Get creative
One way to help increase your child's language skills is to get creative!
Make art together and talk about the process. For example, "I'm going to use blue paint." or "I'm making a picture of a bird." This will help your child learn new words and increase their vocabulary.
Kids love getting messy, so let them!
Finger-painting, play dough and water colours are all great activities that will help your child develop their language skills. Let them explore, make a mess, and have fun!
9. Don't make everything easily accessible
Part of helping your child develop their language skills is by making sure that they have opportunities to explore new things on their own.
Put away some toys or put certain objects out of reach so that they are not constantly being easily accessible every time you turn around.
10. Use dramatic play
Dramatic play is a great way for children to use their imagination, practice using words, and increase vocabulary.
For example, if your child wants a sandwich, encourage them to say "I'm hungry! I need food!" instead of just grabbing the bread and peanut butter.
This will help your little one learn how to carry on conversations better with other people as well!
11. Let them get involved in daily chores
Encourage your child's independence by letting them help you with chores and other tasks throughout the day.
For example, if your child is old enough to climb on a stool and help you make dinner, let them do it!
This increases independence and encourages children to use words to communicate their needs.
12. Praise them for using new words
Encourage your child's language development by praising them when they take an interest in spoken language.
When they ask questions about something or choose to speak instead of screaming, be sure to praise them! Every time you say "What a good question!" or "You're so smart!", you are helping increase their vocabulary knowledge.
13. Give them multi-purpose toys
- Sensory bins; these are containers/baskets/storage boxes filled with blocks, and other open-ended toys are perfect for helping your child develop their language skills. These types of toys require children to use their imagination and express themselves in order to play with them. This helps improve communication and encourages creativity.
- Board or other turn-taking games; these are great for working on patience and requesting- even simple boards can be simplified to fit your child's needs. Turn-taking games can be utilised to promote social language skills as children often need to ask for a turn, wait their turn, follow rules of a game, and engage in good sportsmanship.
- Bath time play; It's possible to convert a task that is commonly regarded as a nuisance into an opportunity to elicit a wide range of language abilities. Bringing toys into the bath, adding bubbles, singing favorite sing-along songs, or making tub paint are great ways to make bath time more interesting.
14. Be Patient
Language development can be a slow process for many children.
Don't get discouraged if your little one doesn't talk as much as you'd like them to - they will get there in their own time.
Just be patient and keep encouraging them!
Language development is a slow process - many children don't talk as much as their parents would like them to, but it's important to be patient and keep encouraging your little one.
Using the steps we've outlined should help you prevent language delays in young children.
Remember: every time you say "What a good question!" or "You're so smart!", you are helping increase your child's vocabulary knowledge. Have fun and enjoy the process!
Thank you for reading!
We hope that this article has been helpful in increasing your knowledge of ways to help your child with their language development.