5 Ways to Strengthen Your Child’s Language Development
Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” His statement serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of language within human development, and this is certainly the case when we talk about linguistic development in children.
From the moment a baby is born, they begin to make coo’s and ahh’s as a way to interact with their world. As they are exposed to the communication of others, they begin to develop their own linguistic abilities. While children are born with everything, they need to develop language skills, there are ways parents and caregivers can strengthen this development…and you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that much of it can be incorporated into play.
We’ve gathered 5 of our favorite ways to incorporate language development into fun activities you can enjoy with your child. Let’s take a look!
1. Read, Read, Read!
There’s a reason reading is our number one suggestion—it is the single most important activity for boosting language development. From the moment a baby is born, parents and caregivers should begin reading books to the child. There is no such thing as a child who is too young to benefit from the activity. Reading to children helps them acquire language and stimulates the part of the brain responsible for linguistic processing.
So, read. Read to your babies. As they turn into toddlers, they read board books and picture books, and sensory books. With enough repetition, your child will be able to tell the story to you even if they are too young to read the words on the page…let them.
Create a story bag or box. Fill your container with items that can serve as props for storytelling—action figures, stuffed toys, Lego people, toy cars, monster stickers, small houses/buildings. Have your child close their eyes and pull out a prompt, then start building their story around it. If they get stuck, allow them to pull another item and incorporate it into their tale.
And if you don’t want to spend time creating a story bag, consider picking up a set of Rory’s Story Cubes. Each set comes with 9 dice covered in various images. Children roll the dice and then try to create a story that includes all of the images. You won’t believe how much children enjoy this game!
2. Block Play
Building with blocks might not be an obvious activity to support language development, but block play is, in fact, an easy way to strengthen linguistic skills.
As you and your child build with blocks, ask them questions. What are you building? Why did you leave that open space? Is that a door or a window? Who lives in the house you built?
If you have alphabet blocks, you can ask your child to spell their name (if age appropriate) or have them line the blocks up in alphabetical order. Younger children can sort blocks according to color or group them in quantities you decide. Can you build a tower using three blocks?
You’ll be surprised how effective block play can be for increasing your child’s vocabulary!
3. Dress Up or Imaginative Play
Children love to play “pretend”. If you have a costume box at home, let your child dress up and engage in imaginative play with you. Perhaps your child is the doctor, and you are the patient. Or your child might work at a grocery store and you can play the customer who needs to purchase groceries. Ask your child to help you gather props from around the house that can help set the scene for imaginative play.
Engaging in imaginative play allows your child to increase their vocabulary and improve their conversational language skills.
4. Play Music and Sing
Language development isn’t limited to speaking or reading. Singing is a wonderful outlet for energy and excellent for strengthening language skills.
Play your child’s favorite music and encourage them to sing as they dance. You can clap along to the rhythm or get out your favorite musical instruments—harmonicas, tambourines, finger cymbals, drums—and play along as you sing. You’ll find that children remember words better when they are connected to a song or music than they would if they were speaking them.
5. Board or Card Games
Playing card or board games comes with a slew of benefits, including language development. Card games like The Gruffalo (for younger preschoolers) or Spot It (for older children) are wildly entertaining and easily incorporate language into gameplay.
Classic board games like Chutes and Ladders and Candyland can be played by children as young as three years old and are equally entertaining for older children. Not only do these games provide ample opportunity for language building, but they’re also great at teaching social skills like taking turns.
As you can see, language development can (and should) happen outside of storytime. By incorporating opportunities for linguistic growth throughout the day, you will ensure your child is developing a beautifully broad vocabulary.
Thanks for reading,
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