It's Tip Tuesday and since I receive questions about facilitating and eliciting language in very young children often from parents all over the world I thought I'd do a series offering tips and techniques I have done (and still do) with my own kiddos to get them talking! You will notice there will be very few speech pathology terms used here as the goal of this series is to speak directly to parents. However this information can be used by SLPs, early interventionists, or early childhood educators as well. These tips are targeted for children 0-3 yrs (or cognitive equivalent).
So here's Tip #2 (find Tip #1 here). You hear this all the time and if you want a child with strong communication and problem solving skills, good inferencing abilities and a large vocabulary, this is the way you make it happen.
Read often and Read repeatedly. Read books to your child EVERY day! Be sure to read and re-read the same books, over and over to your child. I know it will seem tedious and monotonous at times, but it is very important to offer repeated readings of the same book to your child. As your child grows and begins to request books, it will become apparent which books he/she really enjoys. However, during the infant stage it will be up to you as a parent to remember to re-read books to your little one.
A word of caution when choosing books: do not limit yourself to only picture books or very simple stories. Even if your infant cannot yet talk or understand language, exposure to rich vocabulary, variations in prosody and intonation, and various narrative structures, will aid in further development of your child's auditory comprehension skills. (Side note: Also remember over time to change up books that your child has available to him/her so that he/she experiences various types of narratives.)
I remember when my oldest was 9 months old, he fell in LOVE with the cadence of the "Gingerbread Man" and he would knock over his basket of books, push all his other books out of the way, just to find this book for me to read. Although he didn't understand every word, he loved hearing that book over and over and over again. I must have read it 1000 times over the next 2 or 3 months, but he just couldn't get enough of it! (And five years later, he still loves it!) Don't get me wrong, as a mom, I desperately wanted to hide that book and if I ever had to read it again, it would be too soon. However, I knew it would help him in the long run and it just gave him such pleasure to hear it, that I couldn't say no.
Simple tip on how I foster daily reading: Some parents like to schedule a set time (morning and night, or before nap time and bed, etc.) that they like to read to their children and if you are one of those parents I say, keep it up! I like to do things a little differently. I leave baskets/buckets of books around my house so that no matter where we are, I have immediate access to books. I do not set up a time of day that I read with my boys, we just naturally gravitate to the book basket(s) as we play. When my, now 8 month old, seems interested in his books by looking at them or by beginning to pull out books from his basket, I just snuggle with him and read some books. We do this until he shows me, he is done by climbing off of my lap and heading for a new toy. If he comes back, I read some more. Some days he is more interested in books than others but because he has access to his books at all times, we never go a day without reading. Oh, and I change our books every few weeks or so, while still keeping some of his favorites around.
|Here is one of the book buckets we have around our house. This one has books for my 8 month old but my older child will often times read them to my little guy.|
Why does it work? Repeated readings has been shown to have a positive affect in the areas of vocabulary development, recalling story details, sequencing of a story, pre-literacy skills, early reading skills and much more. So, I'd say it's worth the monotony!
Check out Tip #3 here!
Happy talking and reading!