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March 1, 2016

How to maximize using language at home!

One of the very first things I tell parents in an initial evaluation of early language skills is how to structure their home to maximize language. When a child is born, they use crying to get the things they need. As they get older, crying no longer becomes an accepted form of communication. Sign language and words slowly start to replace the crying to get the things they need/want. However, the transition from crying to using words/signs can be difficult for some children. Here are three ways you can facilitate your child’s environment to promote the use of words/signs.
First, try to organize toys in bins or on shelves. The child will have to come to you for help if they want to play with a toy. This is a great opportunity for you to model a word such as “please” “help” “more” in word form or by taking the child’s hands and doing the sign with them (called Hand over Hand). It helps the child understand the relationship between requesting and receiving. They realize, “I said something and I got what I wanted”.
Second, talk about EVERYTHING you are doing as you are doing it. Children are always listening and they pick up on almost everything. The more you repeat vocabulary words the more likely the child is to associate the word with the object. For example if you are playing with a ball, “oooo ball. red ball. big ball. see ball? my ball. it’s a ball. Ball!” It may seem redundant to you, but the child is forming an association between the word you are saying and the object you are playing with. So repetition is key!
Third, have books around the house. Read to them. Picture books are best. Sit and talk about the pictures in the book. Ask them questions, “where’s the bear?” “oh I see the car, can you find it?” Just pointing to pictures with you expands their language and strengthens their bond with you.
Developmental milestones of language state that a child should have at least 1-5 words by 12 months old, but every child is different. If you are concerned with your child language development, please feel free to contact our office for a free Speech therapy screening.
~Megan Dearing, M.A., CCC-SLP

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