With thousands of classes, activities, and toys available to boost children’s communication development, it’s easy to overlook the best educational tool parents already have—their voices!
Every time you talk, read or sing with your child, you’re helping to lay the foundation for their future communication skills. In fact, recent research has shown that the number of words a child hears between 0 and 3 plays a significant role in their future academic success.
Below are some fun ways to boost your child’s communication development and promote bonding from the folks at Pathways.org. Founded in 1985, Pathways.org empowers parents and health professionals with free educational resources on the benefit of early detection and early intervention for children’s motor, sensory, and communication development.
- Narrate your actions as you dress, feed and bathe your baby. Talk about what you’re doing and where you’re going.
- Sing to your baby. This provides comfort along with encouraging language development.
- Read to your baby. Although they may not be able to follow along yet, your baby loves listening to your voice and looking at the bright illustrations.
- When your baby is babbling, repeat the sounds back to them. Encourage your baby to respond.
- Name the parts of your baby’s body. Have fun by making up rhymes when you touch her fingers, nose and toes.
- Use gestures to communicate the meaning of words, like waving goodbye.
- Practice using hello and goodbye with a play telephone.
- Go on a nature walk in a park or even in your backyard and point out all of the animals and interesting plants you see.
- Sing nursery rhymes with actions like “Itsy-Bitsy-Spider” and “Patty Cake”.
- As you read to your toddler, encourage them to point out familiar objects in the illustrations.
- Praise your child for talking by smiling, clapping and responding to them.
- Use ABC books to familiarize your baby with the alphabet.
- Always respond when your child asks a question or calls your name, even if it’s to say “One second, please.”
- Read rhyming books together, like Dr. Seuss, and see if your child can complete the rhyme. For instance, “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I __”
- Look through photos with your child and ask them to point out familiar family members.
- Label objects around your house to familiarize your child with letters and words.
- Read books with a simple plot and talk with your child about the story line. Share your favorite part and ask for their favorite part.
- Encourage imaginary play, like house and dress up.
- When your child uses a short phrase like, “Bird go fly,” expand on it by responding with a complete sentence, such as “Yes, the birds fly in the sky.”
- Ask your child to group objects by category. For instance, when in the grocery store ask your child, “Let’s name all of the vegetables we see,” or “Which foods are green?”
- Initiate conversation by asking your child about their day or what they are excited about in the coming week.
For even more communication and general child development resources, check out www.pathways.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pathways.org is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization.