Toddlers belong to the age group of 12 to 36 months. It is the age group when children rapidly develop various skills in cognitive, social and communication domain. It is important for the parents to stimulate and encourage development of prelinguistic and linguistic skills in toddlers.
Following are the six ways to do the same: –
1. Talk, Listen and Talk –
Since toddlers love to listen and also respond, they need to be given opportunities for the same. Talk as much as possible with your toddler. She might not be responding immediately but remember that she is listening to you which is the main prerequisite for language development. Talk to your kid while doing some work for example, “ Mummy is going to wash the vegetables now and then she will chop them” or while shopping for groceries talk to them about what could be needed and for what. For example, “ Baby likes yummy soup, so mummy will buy tomatoes for the soup”.
When your baby makes sounds, you should not only look interested but listen to her and repeat her utterances to let her know that you have heard her. Modify her utterances and present the correct model to you toddler. It is very important that the child gets feedback for each successful communication. For example, when the child points to spoon and says, “U u u,” you may say, “ You are saying u u u; looks like you need a spoon”.
2. Make eye contact, encourage turn taking –
It is very important to look at your child while talking to her. Children esp. toddlers are very observant towards verbal and nonverbal communication. They love to imitate and communicate using gestures. Eye to eye contact ensures that the child is looking and is attentive to what you are speaking. Moreover, inability of a toddler to make and sustain eye to eye contact could indicate developmental disorder.
While you should try to encourage your child to communicate, it is important that she gets chance to initiate a conversation. She should not be just the recipient of information but also initiator of communication.
3. Use Animal sounds , other repetitive environmental sounds, singing rhymes and songs with action –
These will stimulate you child to speak. Prefer the sounds that are present in the environment of your child. This will motivate meaningful learning and generalisation of the learning. You can use picture books of animals or make sounds while repeating those sounds verbally. For example, saying “dhum , dhum” while beating drum. Let the turn taking be there. The child should also get a chance to make sounds and you say the sounds and vice versa. While doing such activities, sentences to be used with the child.
Children not only like repetition but love listening to anything that is rhythmic, rhyming and action oriented. Repeat famous rhymes in the child’s mother tongue. Do actions and also make appropriate facial expressions with voice modulation to attract the child’s attention.
4. Asking and Answering Wh – questions –
Answer to the questions asked by your child patiently. Most of the time when a child asks a question, she has already formed a view about it. The best way would be to ask her what does she feel about it. For example, if she asks, (pointing at a tree) “what is this?”, you should encourage her to respond what she thinks that is instead of answering or responding in a hurry. This practice will encourage language output and creativity as well. Similarly, you should also ask questions while telling stories or looking at an object or while taking a stroll or doing any household chore as long as your child enjoys answering.
5. Read to your child –
Reading books to you toddler is a very effective way to not only encourage communication but also pre reading skills. Reading stories using picture books to your child is very entertaining and stimulating. Questions could be asked and your child could be asked to fill in the blanks for the known sentences. Same stories could be read if the child enjoys. Let toddler stay on one page for five minutes if she wants to and talk to her about everything you see on that page.
6. Expansion of child’s utterances –
Your toddler may speak in one or two-words utterances. It is important that parents expand upon the child’s utterances meaningfully. For example, if your child says, “Want bikky,” you should say,“You want biscuits? I know that you like chocolate cream biscuits. How many biscuits, one or many?”
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