Verbal communication: more than just baby talk
Why promote the language development and verbal communication skills of young children, particularly infants, toddlers, and preschoolers? Early language and communication skills play a crucial role in children’s success in school and beyond. When parents, caregivers, as well as teachers, provide children with higher levels of language stimulation, children grasp better language skills.
Studies have shown that children who develop strong language and verbal communication skills at an early age are less likely to have difficulties learning to read and more likely to excel in school. Also, children who are read and spoken to during early childhood have better grammar and larger vocabularies than those who aren’t.
As a parent or caregiver, you want to provide every opportunity for your child to learn and reach their potential. As their first teacher, you play a critical role in their language development. You can make learning verbal communication skills fun for them. How?
Here are a few ways you can to encourage your child to develop and use their verbal communication skills:
Talk, talk, talk. Get chatty with your child, even in the most mundane moments of the day. Talk about everyday stuff as you and your child go through the day. This all begins by parents and caregivers understanding that children under the age of five experience the majority of their learning opportunities during regular daily routines. Take advantage of daily experiences that allow your child to express, use, and learn language.
Read, read, read. What better way to encourage your children to read and develop a love for reading than to read to them? Reading to your child helps improve your child’s reading comprehension and expand their expressive vocabulary. Read with expression and explain new words. Reading with children allows them to make connections between words and pictures. Point out pictures and ask your child questions about objects, people, and things they see as you read together. Ask your child what they think might come next. Act out portions of the story. Take turns reading alternate pages or chapters. Children will discover that books are fun and become good listeners. Also, children who are read to are likely to become good readers and succeed in school.
Play games together. Playtimecan provide so many opportunities to encourage your child to develop their language and verbal communication skills. In my book Talk, Play, and Read with Me Mommy, I have listed games including animal games, musical sing-a-long games, counting and matching games, story time games, listening games and so much more that are developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. They will learn to follow directions, increase their expressive and receptive language skills, role play (use their imagination during pretend play), and build and expand on sounds, words, phrases, and simple sentences.
Enjoy music together. What better way to help young children develop expressive language skills than through songs. Songs provide examples of memorable and rhythmic language as they are authentic and easily accessible examples of spoken language. The rhymes in songs, as well as nursery rhymes and kiddie songs, provide young children with repetition of similar sounds. Finger play songs also help children to increase their memory and social sills, increase vocabulary, and gain large and small motor skills by performing body movements. Check out my book for finger play songs and musical sing-a-long games to play with your child.
Visit places. Aside from the library and public park, a visit to the zoo, a museum, a cultural landscape, or a nature reserve will open up a whole new world for your child. Trips to such locations encourage communication in young children who will want to learn the names of all the sights and fun activities they experience.
It takes time for young children to learn and use language. Verbal communication with children involves talking to them in ways that encourage them todevelop and use their own skills. It’s like any other skill. They get better with practice. Continue to be a good role model and always set aside time for talking and listening to each other.