We are going to look at 3 ways that you can help increase your child's communication skills: through reading, through language expansion techniques, and through songs and games.
You might have heard just how important it is to read to your preschooler. In fact, the earlier you start the better! Here are a few things you can do to get your child excited about books!
- Take them to the library. Most libraries have story time or activities geared toward kids.
- Make sure the books you buy are appropriate for your child's age and interests.
- Listen to audiobooks. This is great for in the car or quiet times. You can even record yourself reading the books. They love hearing a familiar voice.
- Make reading exciting! Point to the pictures and talk about them. Use silly voices and show excitement as you read.
- Let your child tell the story back to you after you read it. Flip back through the pages and let them talk about the pictures. Act it out or use story props to make it more fun!
2. Language Expansion
You can expand children's language by adding to what they say and talking to them about their surroundings. Here are some things you can do to help increase your child's vocabulary and understanding of language:
- Model what you want your child to say using correct grammar and new vocabulary. (i.e. Child: "Her can have it." Parent: "Yes, she can have the toy.")
- Avoid using "Say this or that" to get your child to talk. Instead, encourage imitation by modeling and expanding on what they do say. (i.e. Child: "Car." Parent: "Car goes fast! Vroom vroom!")
- When out in the community, point out objects and pictures and talk about them. Use descriptive words like big, small, hot, red, wet, etc. This will help them to develop an understanding of basic concepts.
- Give your child simple tasks that include one and two step directions. Use visuals if you need to. Include simple prepositions when you can. (i.e. Put the book on the table, under the bed, etc.).
- Combine words with gestures or signs to help with comprehension. Some examples can include waving, pointing, hand movements, or facial expressions. This will also teach them to use gestures or signs if they are having difficulty getting their message across.
- Encourage oral awareness by making silly faces and sounds. Wiggle your tongue, blow kisses, smile and frown...anything to get their mouth moving. Exposing them to foods with a variety of textures and temperatures is also good for oral awareness.
3. Songs & Games
Playing games and singing interactive songs are fantastic ways to sneak those language skills into their play. Games encourage turn taking, listening, problem solving, and vocabulary building. Songs and music focus on rhythm and beat of speech as well as syllables and sounds. Here are a few tips and suggestions to remember when you're playing:
- Play I Spy - You can take turns spying different objects by their color, function, or attribute. This encourages listening and increases vocabulary.
- Play matching games and talk about how things are the same and different. Help them describe ways that the items are similar and different.
- Sing songs that have a lot of repetition, rhymes, or songs that tell stories.
- Sing songs with lots of hand motions to encourage coordination, listening, following directions, and identifying body parts.
- Do finger plays and chant nursery rhymes together.
I've also included some handouts to give to parents and teachers. They are filled with a few helpful ideas that are geared toward preschoolers. :)
You can grab them for free HERE!
*I should note that these are just meant to be helpful tips from my own experiences and readings. If you have concerns about your child's speech or language skills, please contact an SLP in your area. :)
Some of the information listed may come from the following sources ProEd, The Speech Bin, and Talking on the Go.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any other tips to help your kiddos?