You’ve heard it from Comprehensive Therapy Center before, and we’re sure we’ll never stop saying it! Children learn through play. The great thing about that is the opportunity it gives parents: we can use play to build language skills in beginning communicators and it’s less like work and more like fun.
Hot-Tips to Encourage Early Communication:
Watch what your child is doing. Join in! Find your own car, stuffed animal, blocks, and play along. Make it simple and fun, and talk the entire time.
Let your child direct the play. Slow down and do what your child does. Try to get face to face. Your child is in charge of the play and your job is to listen and play along. Add simple early developing words (ex., go, stop, beep, up, more, etc.) to describe the action. Use facial expressions to match the play. Does your child want your car? That’s great! It means they’re watching and listening to you. Just trade toys or get another one and continue the play. Does your child abandon the cars to play with blocks? Then you do the same. Or maybe try to add your car to the block tower or put a block on the car!
Even if your child doesn’t seem to be interested in “play with toys” you can watch to see where their attention is for other opportunities. Bonus – they might be things you enjoy more. Is there a bird to watch outside the window? Is the air coming out of the vent cold? Share these experiences out loud, pointing out colors, sounds, surrounds, etc., and use them to build language and interactions.
Wait for your child. Give them the opportunity to use gestures, sounds, or language. The more you allow them time to express themself the more they will get the idea that you are expecting a gesture, sound or word. And when they do, respond! If you don’t know what they said, use context clues, the environment, or previous experiences to figure it out. If you still don’t know, just imitate what they said to show that you are listening.
These strategies – engaging in your child’s activities, allowing them the opportunity to begin the conversation, responding to their communication – work for all ages and stages of language development. And both you and your child will have fun while doing it.
Do you have any questions for us? Be sure to check out our Facebook Event Page to join in on one of our Therapy Q&A Zoom sessions, being held all summer long on Zoom.