By age two, a child will have about 300 words in his or her vocabulary. Some children may have more, while some may have less. Either way, it is important to encourage language for your child so they can further develop their vocabulary. This does not have to be something that is thoroughly planned or have a special time blocked out for it. Encouraging language can be done through an everyday setting by just using self-talk, descriptive words, and following and expanding on your child’s lead.
Self-talk is the first step you can implement to encourage language. All you have to do is describe what you are doing as you do it when you are with the child. This is easy to include as you go about your day. It is one thing to go through the motions, but describing it as you go along will help children pair words with actions.
How can you include self-talk throughout the day? There are many situations where you can describe your actions. While cooking, you can use words such as pouring, stirring, mashing, etc. You can also do this when cleaning up toys: “I am placing the dolls in the basket” or “I am picking up the book”. Another time you can use self-talk is when you are playing with the child. For example, when playing with blocks you could say, “I am stacking the blocks”. The child will see the action, while hearing the word associated with it. This will help them develop the vocabulary needed for describing their own or someone else’s actions.
Next, descriptive words (adjectives) can be utilized throughout the day. It is as simple as adding a word that will describe something. These words will add color, texture, shape, taste, and much more to the topic. By doing this, a child will develop a deeper language and eventually be able to describe things on their own.
Much like self-talk, descriptive words can easily be included in everyday life. Even when shopping you can encourage language. Rather you are clothes or grocery shopping, you can describe items. When looking at clothes, describe the texture: “This shirt is soft” (if possible have the child feel the shirt to add sensory). If you are picking up fruit at the grocery store, talk about the colors and shapes. You could describe an apple by the color: “Let’s buy the red strawberries”. Going back to the play example, you can describe toys by their colors and shapes. There is always a time and situation to add descriptive words into your sentence and your child will pick it up quickly.
No matter what, it is crucial to follow the child’s lead. It is important to build on what your child is already telling you (or gesturing too). It shows they have an interest in that subject and they will definitely be all ears when you tell them more. If a child sees a school bus and says “bus”, then start talking about that bus. You can say something like “yeah, that’s a yellow bus” or “that’s the school bus”. If you are reading a book and your child points at a character on the page, just start describing and talking about that character. Not only does this encourage their own language, but it also shows you are listening and are interested in what they are interested in.
Encouraging language will expand your child’s vocabulary and it is simple to include it in your everyday life. Describing your actions by self-talking will help your child associate words with actions. Another thing you can do is add descriptive words into your sentences. It may take a while to get used too, but overtime it will become automatic. Don’t forget to follow your child’s lead and expand what they are interested in. Encouraging language is not something that will require extra time during the day and it can be included in everyday settings. Just remember to talk, talk, talk!
If you have any questions regarding Cerebral Palsy or would like to find out more about encouraging language for your child, don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 692-4453 or fill out our contact form on Facebook or our website.