Communication is often referred to as one of the most important aspects of human life. Through communication we can express opinions and needs, form relationships, read, comprehend, write, create, convey meanings and a whole host of other things. Communication comes in many forms; speaking and listening are important aspect of communication.
Young children in their early childhood and primary years need parents and other adults in their lives to model appropriate language skills; to engage in conversations, to enjoy singing, talking, reading and chatting on a daily basis.
Here are some basic ideas to help you ensure your child's early language skills are being developed richly, right from birth.
- Try to share a meal together as a family regularly (with the TV turned off!) so you can chat, talk about the day, listen to others speaking and enjoy some real family time together.
- Try to provide time for your child to finish what they are saying to you when they try to tell you something. Sometimes we rush them through or speak over them. They need time to practice speaking and expressing their ideas or retelling events.
- Try to ask children questions that avoid a yes or no response; for example "Tell me about your day", or "what did you enjoy most today" these open ended questions encourage children to describe and explain things.
- When your children ask a question such as; "can I have that?", encourage them to describe more fully what it is they want; for example, "Tell me what it is you want?"
- When you are speaking with your child, try to use descriptive language that models other vocabulary; for example, instead of, "we went to the park", you could say, "this morning, after breakfast, we went in the car to the park where there are swings and slides".
- Try to tell a story or read a story each evening to your child. It is a wonderful way to end a day and encourages a love of language and reading.
- If you have English as your second language, always use your home language with your child. They will develop English more quickly if they have learned the grammar and correct language of your own language first. It's also a bonus for them, as they will be bilingual.
- Limit TV, computer and electronic games if you have them. They are often solitary and isolating without two way communication.
Kathy Walker and Associates © 2009