If you want to help young children in preschool or in a childcare center to develop their language skills, the first thing that you have to do is reinforce what they can already do and support them by helping them feel proud of their accomplishments when it comes to their efforts to communicate.
Acquiring early language is instinctive for most children – as they say, it happens naturally, so you do not have to worry if you see other children communicate better than yours. As adults, we have to be extra careful and aware of our reactions towards their attempts to communicate because this would affect how their development would be.
10 Strategies on How to Develop Language Skills in Young Children
1. Imitate. Copying your children’s words, sounds, and actions show them that they’re being heard and that you support what they’re doing or saying. It also encourages turn-taking and, best of all, emboldens them to imitate you and your more complex language utterances.
2. Interpret. If your kid is pointing to the milk they want to drink, they are communicating with you. Take this to the next level by interpreting what they are trying to say. Respond with, “milk! You want milk!”
3. Expanding and Recasting. If your kid says, “The monkey is jumping on the bed,” you can recast his grammar by saying, “The monkey is jumping on the bed. Use stress and intonation to emphasize the words you want your kid to focus on.
4. Commenting and Describing. Instead of telling children what to do during playtime, be like a reporter. Say, “You’re chopping the veggies,” or, “You’re arranging the cars in line.”
5. Eradicate Negative Talk. Remember, we want to encourage all attempts to communicate and validate those attempts so that children do more of it. We all react better to more positive phrasing.
6. Contingent Responses. Immediately respond to all attempts to communicate, including gestures and words. This is a big one. It shows children how essential communication is and gives you the chance to model more refined language skills.
7. Balance Turn-Taking. Give children the space to practice their communication skills by making sure they get a turn. Turns don’t need to be speaking, either. A turn could be your kid passing you a toy or making eye contact.
8. Label Things. Even when children aren’t ready to use words yet, you can prep them by labeling things in their surroundings.
9. Limit Testing. If you know that your daughter knows which sound a lion makes, don’t keep asking him. Testing her during playtime instead of just playing with her can be stressful.
10. Labeled Praise. As an alternative of just saying “good job,” put a label on that praise. If your kid isn’t yet using words, you could say, “Good job putting all the books back,” because it highlights their good behavior even more. For a kid who is using some words to converse, you could say, “Nice job telling me that you want to pee,” or “Nice job saying I want to pee, please.” This will help make positive feelings around communication and encourage them to carry on to try and add new words.