Your home provides many natural opportunities for your child to learn language. By enhancing your home, you increase the opportunities for your child to explore language and for your to provide language models to promote their understanding and use of early vocabulary and concepts. Here are 5 small but significant ways you can enhance your home and stimulate language use during daily routines at home in day-to-day situations.
Collect some of your favorite photos of family members and make color copies. Post these pictures around your house, make them into a small book, or even hide them inside of your child’s favorite toys. When your child discovers these pictures provide simple models for your child to label family members and talk about what they are doing in the picture.
For example, you might say, "There’s mama!.....Mama is running!" Allow for your child to respond or just to listen.
Music is a great tool for encouraging spontaneous speech and/or language. Using songs that are repetitive and use simple language are best. Use songs that are familiar and can be sung each day. While singing the song decrease your rate, and pause as you sing each verse in various spots to allow your child to fill-in missing words. Vary your intonation and make the song exaggerated and silly sounding (For example, if you were singing Old MacDonald, sing "OOOLD MACDONALD HAD A ... FARM...") to allow opportunities for your child to sing along or fill-in words. You can easily do this with CDs or MP3s of your child's favorite songs in the car. Sing along to a favorite and familiar tune, and then press pause for a moment to allow your child to fill-in the next words in the song.
Books are always nice to read with any child for variety of reasons. You can use books to build routines and consistent models of language. Build favorite books into regular routines. For example, before bed, read the same 3 books, or before a nap read a favorite book twice. Select books that have repetitive, simple language. You can have your child simply listen or engage with you in labeling pictures, or filling-in familiar lines as they repeat throughout the reading. You can also place emphasis on names of people or places or even actions that are illustrated in the pictures (e.g., "Look the boy is sleeping...sleep...sleep...sleep") .
For many children, food is very motivating. Provide additional time to label and describe your child’s favorite foods before giving it to them (e.g., as you are feeding your child a cookie, say "cookie !" and hold up the cookie so that it's plainly in his or her view. Then, say "cookie!" again moving it a bit closer to your child's hands and finally, as you place the cookie in their hands or on their highchair tray, say " It's a big COOKIE!") By using the attention and anticipation built within a familiar and naturally motivating item (such as food), you can provide additional opportunities to model early vocabulary concepts with a captive audience. It is a simple, yet effective way of providing additional language stimulation within a routine you do everyday.
GROSS MOTOR ACTIVITIES!
Running, jumping, and "rough housing" are non-speech activities that are fun and can be helpful in facilitating language. Try choosing a "keyword" the next time you play together at the playground. Repeat it over and over again. For example, while running with your child, it can easily become a language stimulation game. You can run together and say, "run RUN RUN!" "Let's RUN fast!" or "Let's RUN slowly!"
While playing a tickle game, you can highlight the word "tickle" while playing. Tickle your child and say "TICKLE TICKLE TICKLE" as you watch them laugh and tickle them. Then, take break, let them settle down and build some anticipation for more tickling. Your child may grab your hands or vocalize to request more tickling. In this moment, ask "TICKLE?" When your child responds with a shake of the head or a grunt or an approximation of the word tickle ( e.g., "dah-ul"), tickle them again and repeat the routine.