In my recent series of blogs, I’ve focused my attention on how you can stimulate your child’s language whilst exploring our beautiful city of Newcastle! We’ve been to the beach, park and playground and most recently explored historical Newcastle. Given the current lockdown due to COVID-19 and since we are all at home more than ever, I thought it was the perfect time to talk about ways to stimulate your child’s language in the comfort of your own home!
Even beyond being in lockdown, we are often at home with our children and there are so many ways to work on communication in our home environment and day to day activities.
Time to Get Outside
Since we’ve just come into spring, let’s start out in the backyard! As I’ve spoken about before, we know that learning is often best facilitated in play and multi-sensory activities, so getting outside is a fantastic way to work on building your child’s communication skills. In our household, a favourite way to work on stimulating language outdoors is to have a scavenger hunt!
You can write a list of items to tick off, or print pictures of things that you will look for, think flowers, bugs, lizards, leaves, plants, bark, birds, dogs, cats! You can talk to your child about what they have found and as you hunt for the items on the list, encourage them to point to the things that they see and name them. After you have found things on the list, you can also encourage your child to describe where they have found the items by asking them questions such as, ‘Where was the bee?’, ‘On the flower‘. These types of discussions can build your child’s expressive language skills and expand their vocabulary.
Let’s Talk About Food
Another great way to work on language stimulation at home is by getting your child involved in food preparation and cooking! It’s something that we do every day and sometimes more than once a day, so it’s the perfect way to imbed language whilst also having fun. While you and your child are finding ingredients, you can use ‘WH’ questions to encourage their use of expressive language i.e. ‘What do we need to make the muffins?’, ‘Where should we search for the ingredients?’, ‘How many do we need?’, ‘What do we need next?’.
With cooking, there are often lots of ingredients needed, so you can search for them in the cupboard and fridge together and name what you need and where you found them. This not only builds your child’s vocabulary, but also encourages them to think about prepositions (position words) and allows them to practice following instructions (receptive language), i.e. ‘First we need the flour, then we need the eggs’. You can also describe what you are doing whilst preparing food: ‘I’m putting the flour into the bowl now’ and encourage your child to do the same. Chat about different actions words (verbs) like chop, crack, slice, pour, as you prepare the ingredients. As you move to cooking the food you can include words such as baking, cooking, frying, heating.
Day to Day Activities
There are so many things that we do on a day-to-day basis with our children at home; indoor and outdoor play, bath/shower time, reading stories, mealtimes and there is a simple strategy you can use during all of these times to work on your child’s language development. The strategy is called recasting and it is and one of the easiest tools you can use at home to allow your child to hear more accurate, descriptive language! The way to do it is to model and expand language for your child but not correct them. You can repeat something they have said back to them but with more detail and correct grammar. For example, if you’re playing with bubbles, your child might say: ‘Mummy turn.’ And you might respond with: ‘Yes, Mummy’s turn to blow’. Or, your child might say: ‘book’ and you might respond with: ‘I want a book’.
Home Sweet Home
Your home is the perfect place to work on building your child’s communication skills, as you have so many different things at your fingertips to use whilst being able to keep it simple! It’s really about talking to your child about what you are doing, and what they are doing as you go about your everyday routines such as cooking, cleaning, gardening or any activity that you find yourself doing. As you do this you will be providing your child with an opportunity to hear language and then they will have the chance to practise using it, by copying or commenting on something you have said.
Remember, play is a fantastic way for a child to learn and keeping it fun is really important! So head into your backyard, do some cooking together, grab some books and toys and I’m confident that you will do a wonderful job of stimulating your child’s language whilst you’re at it! Don’t forget though, that we are always here to help. If you have concerns with your child’s speech/language/fluency or feeding development please don’t hesitate to be in touch!