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5 Ways to Help your Child Develop their Language Skills Part 2
#3 Ask questions and mimic you child
Remember that children learn best by following an example. So be the best example! If you want them to ask "why", then ask them "why?". Asking them questions such as "what is that?" will get them thinking. Ask, even if they don't know or can't answer you. If they do try to answer, find a balance between acting like you understand (so that they are not discouraged) and really finding out what they are trying to say in order to really understand what they are saying (so that they keep wanting to share). You may say "exactly! I know... I feel the same way! Well, isn't that interesting?" Even if they don't understand what you are saying, the feelings behind your words are understood by children at a very early age.
Eventually, they will catch on and start answering you. When they do, try to repeat what they said back to them. By mimicking them you teach them to mimic. When they get frustrated and cry, encourage them to use their words. You might simply say "Use your words". If they get upset because you can't understand their words, then you can try asking more questions like "show me", "which one do you want?" or "where?". Ask questions and suggest possibilities "the blue one?", "this?", "the big one?". Simply put, be curious and patient with your child and you will teach them to do the same.
For toddlers and older children you can also play "command games". If you have a whiteboard, you can write down five commands and then point to each one before you demonstrate it. You can also just try demonstrating the fist command in the game and ask if they can do it too. Examples of commands to start with: #1 Bow Down, #2 Jump up, #3 Step left, #4 Step right, #5 Turn around. You can get more and more creative as they get the hang of it. Eventually, you will be able to teach them "Simon says" and the song "Head and shoulders".
#4 Introduce them to Educational Programs, Games, and Apps
It's important that kids hear language being spoken correctly as often as possible. Introduce them to educational "baby" shows. I am against TV, but I have no issues with showing babies shows that teach them about the world around them. Especially, when I have to cook or shop or any of the number of things that force me to focus on something other than my son throughout the day.
There are some great shows out there that you can buy or watch on Youtube, Netflix, and Amazon. That way, you're child isn't exposed to the commercials on TV. Although, Youtube is increasing the amount of commercials and sometimes I have seen an inappropriate commercial come on between kids videos, so be ready to skip the advertisement or hit mute.
Expose you child to technology. We have an amazing tool that we can use to teach our children- the internet. Show them pictures of animals and mountain climbers, videos of parkour and whales, introduce them to classical music, merengue, creative dancing and poetry etc. Children are like sponges and they are thirsting for knowledge and experience.
Here is a great playlist of educational clips, You can also do a search for "Baby Einstein, long", "Charlie and the numbers" and "My baby can read, long" on Youtube or purchase the DVD's. By adding the word "long" to your search, you get videos that are longer than 20 min long. Experts recommend only about 2 hours of quality TV watching per day.
Try to expose your kid to a touch screen and baby /toddler apps. Nowadays, many people have access to an iphone, ipad, an android phone or tablet. Ultra books also have touch screens. The apps that have been made specifically for babies and toddlers are amazing. Just make sure to take note of the reviews before downloading, that usually helps. Try downloading apps that teach your child about animals, the alphabet, shapes, puzzles, mix and match games etc.
Also try this website with them: starfall.com. It makes learning the alphabet fun and interesting. The alphabet song is great for learning phonics. The 'learning to read sections' are great, as well. The website is also used in schools by teachers as a tool for learning, applying, practicing and reviewing. Pbs kids is another great website for games and watching videos.
On Netflix or Amazon, you can watch some great children shows with your child that will teach them as well as entertain them. We like Yo Gabba Gabba, Curious George, Super why, Sid the science kid, Leap Frog, Cat in the hat, and Pocoyo.
Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that you give your kid a device and walk away. I am suggesting that they be exposed to tools of learning at an early age. Infancy is not "too young".
#5 Variety is the spice of your child's life
Try many different things and talk about them. Dance to Music, play instruments, look at art, be awesome, paint, build with blocks, play sports, make crafts, make new friends with other kids, trees, animals, bugs, make up super hero poses, and search online for more activities.
When introducing games and dancing try recruiting a kid that already knows the game/dance or another adult so that you can model the game/dance for your child.
Here is a good link for educational activities. The blog is called "in lieu of preschool".
Don't forget to describe, communicate, be a good listener, and get feedback.
One of my friends told me that she thinks about her child as coming from another planet and my friend's job is to teach her about this planet and share our knowledge. I like that because it reminds me to remember that my child is an intelligent being and I should try to show him what is good about this world.
I also want to share something my mom used to say. "I may talk with an accent, but I don't think with one". Never underestimate what your child is capable of understanding or knowing. Even still, they will surprise you.
That being said we should build up with what we teach so as not to overwhelm them. Start simple then build up little by little. Revisit lessons often and most importantly have fun; they will teach you how.
Read Part 1 here
- 5 ways to Help your Child Develop their Language Skills Part 1
While teaching English in China, I learned many things about how kids learn. Here are some of the things that I want to remember to continue doing with my child.