Stimulating language in everyday life!
Put yourself at your child's physical level:
- Face your child when playing or talking.
- Look at him when he speaks to you.
- Get down on your knees if this will help to communicate with him.
Let your child talk:
Avoid anticipating your child's needs or demands. Give him time to show or tell.
Talk during everyday activities:
- Children who have language problems are often quiet during play and daily activities.
- Comment on what you and your child are doing. If you are cooking, include your child in this activity and talk about what you are doing. For example, "I'm cutting the apple. Cut, cut, cut. Mmmmm, good. Time to eat."
- Keep your sentences short and simple, but adapted to your child's level.
- Try to involve your child in the activity so that he is an active participant.
- Use these suggestions during play, bathtime and outside of the house as well (examples: park, store).
Talk about what you see with your child:
- Bring your child's attention to the things you see around you when in a park, on the bus, at the store or in the car.
- Expand on what your child says: Add on to the word or short sentence that your child says (add 1 or 2 words). For example, ifhe says “Juice”, you can say “More juice” or if he says “Daddy gone” you can say “Daddy is gone”. Do not ask your child to repeat.
Repeat what your child says:
When you repeat back correctly what your child tries to say, it gives him confidence to try again and provides a correct model of how to say it. It also shows that you are paying attention and interested in what he has to say.
When you repeat a word after him, emphasize the sound or syllable he had difficulty with, but, again, do not ask him to repeat.
Interpret what your child attempts to say:
If your child says something you do not understand, ask him questions to attempt to understand him, or ask him to show you what he’s talking about.
When you have understood him, use the correct word or phrase with him to show him how to say it, but do not ask him to repeat after you.
Play and have fun with your child:
All of these suggestions can be applied not only to everyday activities but also while playing with your child. Try to take 5-10 minutes a day to play with your child.
Look at books with your child:
Talk together about the pictures you see and tell him stories about these pictures. If your child wants to tell part of the story, encourage him to do so: use some of the suggestions in the previous sections to help model appropriate language for him.
If your child lives in an environment where there is more than one language, speak to him in your best language:
Your child needs a good language model in order to properly develop language. Each person in his environment should therefore speak the language in which he or she is most comfortable and which comes naturally. Rest assured that living in a bilingual or multilingual setting does not cause a language delay or aggravate an existing language problem.
Department of Speech-Language Pathology
The Montreal Children’s Hospital
McGill University Health Center