Parents can do a lot to help develop their children’s speech and language skills. Here are a few tips to help with your child’s language process.
It is worthwhile to remember that not every child is the same but most are able to say a few words by their first birthday.
Be sure that your child is taking part in daily activities and speak to them about everything that you, yourself are doing, such as: “We are hanging up the clothes on the line” and “We are calling granny.”
Speak slowly and precisely to your children. It helps to develop their understanding skills if you speak slower than usual.
Listen and respond to their attempt to communicate. Give things that they are interested in a name, make them laugh and speak to them when they laugh with you.
Ask them good questions to encourage them to speak to you and show them that you have an interest in what they have to say.
Give names to your children’s activities. Describe what they are doing or what you are doing. For example: “I am going to put a clean nappy on Máire”, or “Poor Seán! He is crying.”
Add extra words to their sentences. You are showing them that you have heard and understood what they are saying and you are helping them to develop it further. For example, when they say “car”, say to them, “look at the car!” Or if they say “biscuit,” say to them “would you like a biscuit?”
Copy your child’s gestures. This suggests that you are interested in their activities. Make a game out of it so that they start copying you, for example, if they clap their hands together, copy them, or if they say “u oh,” say the same thing.
In repetitive games such as ‘peek-a-boo,’ leave every second movement to the child. This is an important system for encouraging conversation and for the development of phonics and rhythm of speech.
Sing children’s songs and rhymes. Sing to them yourself to start and don’t rely to much on CD’s or videos. At the beginning, go slower and repeat often. This encourages and demonstrates the pronunciation of sounds and the rhythm of speech in a relaxed and enjoyable way.
Play with the children on the floor face to face. Copy the child’s play with cars, bricks and rattles etc.
Make sounds, describe the activities of the child, let the child lead the game and follow it. Gradually use toys and real items for the game. Feed a teddy bear, put a teddy to sleep, wake him up, dry his tears etc.
Talk constantly about what you are doing. There is every chance that the children themselves will start imaginative play on their own.
If your child is watching television, watch the programmes with them and talk about them afterwards.
Look at and read illustrated stories to your children. Even children at the age of three months enjoy books with familiar pictures.
If you are working full-time, make every effort to ensure that your children have a calm and ongoing relationship with an Irish speaking babysitter while you are away from home.