Children develop their ability to understand and use language in a wide variety of ways. As parents, we can support this work using simple games and activities. When we provide a safe and loving environment for our children and look for ways to make learning fun, they will relax and enjoy the process, growing all along.
Engaging with our children in language development will not only enhance their speech, but develop our relationship with our children. We want our children to be equipped with the language skills to be successful in life. Helping our children develop language skills also prepares them for a life time of dialogue with their creator.
Here are some ideas:
When you are driving together, build a story one word at a time. The first person begins the story using one word and then the next person adds on until the story is complete. Even preschoolers can learn to play this game and it helps children to focus on the words and the meaning, while processing language quickly. Use of imagination is also fostered as the stories grow in silliness. If you have a child who struggles with oral language, it may be helpful to build the stories using sentences, instead.
Talk to your children throughout the day using descriptive words to explain what you are doing, thinking or feeling. Your explanations give words to the day and will teach tasks and processing as well as improve language.
Read books to your children that are below, at and above their level. Being exposed to a wide variety of vocabulary will help to build your child’s understanding of language and help them to develop their own use of words. Seek books that tell stories using only pictures and encourage your child to tell the story verbally. Putting thoughts to pictures can be very helpful in learning to share your ideas.
After an outing (or even a day at home!) sit with your child and write the story using simple sentences that your child dictates to you. If possible, add photos of the day to the pages and create a book that your child can “read.” These stories can also become treasured keepsakes after your children are grown.
Our homes can become a warm and nurturing educational oasis for those we love so well. Taking time to intentionally approach the language development of our children will lead to reflective, descriptive conversation and is well worth the work.