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How to support your child's development by creating a language rich environment

Here are some suggestions on how you can incorporate language playful into everyday life...

 

Singing songs, saying nursery rhymes and trying out clapping games are easy and fun ways to expose toddlers to language. Activities like those can be played everywhere (during car rides, bath time or walks). Rhyming enhances phonological awareness, an essential skill for developing reading and writing abilities. Furthermore, it supports rhythm and expands vocabulary knowledge through repetition. Start with short Rhymes and choose some with movements like Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. 

Play offers opportunities for interactions and conversations. During those, toddlers learn how sounds, words and conversations work. Choose toys that suit the developmental stage of your child. You may also provide props to encourage pretend play scenarios where they can express their ideas. If necessary, help them with naming things they don't know yet. Use descriptive language when discussing certain items, and encourage your child to use specific words.

 Everyday situations like mealtimes, grocery shopping or bathtime provide great opportunities to engage in conversations. During those times, your child learns to take turns and practice speaking and listening skills. As children learn language by hearing, it is necessary to encourage back-and-forth communication by asking open-ended questions.

Listening games strengthens children’s auditory perception, which is crucial when they start school. Our children experience a lot of visual inputs these days. It is important to provide opportunities where the auditory perception is supported. 

Sound guessing game: Your child closes their eyes while you create various household noises (e.g. running tap water, closing a door. Ask them to identify the sources, maybe even in the correct sequence. This activity enhances auditory discrimination and memory, both critical skills for listening comprehension and crucial skills for learning to read and write. 

Most children love to help with grocery shopping. During your next grocery store visit, pause in one section and ask your child to bring two familiar items. Evaluate their ability to recall all items, varying the number and complexity based on age and developmental stage.

Demonstrate good listening skills yourself, observe their body language and respond warmly so a child learns to understand and manage their emotions. It also provides an opportunity to introduce a child to the language of emotions, so they have words to describe how they feel.

Reading together promotes language and literacy development. It is also a great way of bonding with your child. Choosing age-appropriate books is essential for keeping young children engaged as they might not have developed a longer attention span yet. Big picture books, soft books with sensory inputs, interactive books with flaps, pop-ups, sliders and repetitive language encourage curiosity and interaction. Predictable books encourage toddlers to anticipate what might happen and to memorise the plot.