Talking to your child: make communication with your child a priority

Talking to your child is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to promote your child’s language development. From the day your child is born, words help you share the world with him. Talk to your child while changing diapers or feeding him. Explain what you are doing out loud whenever your baby is in the room with you. When your baby coos and babbles, respond to him and watch for his reactions to encourage this communication.

When playing with your toddler, talk about what you are doing with short, simple sentences, and give him a chance to respond. Encourage your child in a positive way. If your child says something incorrectly, try not to correct him directly (if your child says, "I goed", try not to respond with, "don't say I goed, say I went"). Rather, respond to him using the correct pronunciation of the word with the correct grammar. For example, if a child says, "I see your feets," you can respond by saying, "I can see your feet too."

Children understand many more words than they are able to say. Researchers found that 2-year-old children of talkative mothers said twice as many words as children of mothers who cared for their babies more quietly. Therefore, talking to your children is important in helping them become familiar with words and language.

  1. Use child-directed speech Talking to your child in a higher pitch and with exaggerated pronunciation will grab your baby’s attention and helps promote his participation in conversations. Different people talking to him will have their own way of speaking, and this will aid in the child’s language development.
  2. Be a communication role model Your child hears and understands what you are saying before he can actually speak. When your child starts to talk, he will imitate what he has been hearing. For this reason, avoid "baby talk." Instead, speak clearly and correctly. Remember, you are the primary influence on your child’s vocabulary and grammar.
  3. Your child, the conversationalist Have a conversation with your child. Children learn how to hold conversations and the importance of taking turns, looking attentively, and using facial expressions early on. An easy way to do this is by discussing what you are doing, then pausing and allowing your child to respond. Listen to his response (or babble) and respond to what he said. When your child is older, ask him open-ended questions, such as "What did you do today?" and "How did you feel when…?".

Listen to your child

Your child’s vocabulary may be no more than a series of "bababas" or single words. Even so, the importance of holding a conversation with your child and listening to the response is crucial. By listening to your child you are telling her that you are interested in what she has to say. In addition to listening, you can help your child develop her listening skills and teach her the importance of taking turns. Talk to your child about the sounds that she hears or ask her questions about the sounds. For example you can ask, "Do you hear the doorbell?" or "Listen to that sound. What is it?"