One of the big concerns parents often have is how they can most effectively and easily teach their child language skills. While there is no one toy or activity that will work for every child nor is there one toy or activity that will teach every aspect of language to a child, here is a quick overview of some toys and activities that you can use to help enrich your child’s language development.
- Play – Be it a game, imaginative play, whatever you choose, play can be key in teaching language to children. Be involved in their play – if they are dressing up as a chef and pretending to cook you dinner, give them words to describe what they’re doing. For example, label the food, label the kitchen appliances or cookware they are using, label the actions (e.g., baking, stirring, frying, etc.) that they are completing. Over time, watch these new words emerge!
- Toys – there are a multitude of fancy gadgets and toys out there that claim to teach language to kids, but, many times, the basic toys you have in your home already can be useful in teaching basic language to your kids! Still have some nesting blocks in your home? What about those ABC wooden blocks? You can use those to teach letters, colors, prepositions, counting, size comparisons, shapes and more! Good news is you don’t necessarily have to go out and spend more money on toys or gadgets!
- Conversation – as an RBT, many times when children first start therapy, especially the littlest ones, they don’t have many, if any words that they can use to communicate. As a result, one (of many) things we do is when the child makes a noise, we echo it back to them or when they try to say a word, we echo it back to them. By doing this, you’re showing your child that there is value and benefit to making sounds and word approximations, making them more likely to continue to happen. We also label items and actions familiar to them and in their environment in an attempt to expose them to new words. For example, if they’re playing in the jungle gym and pick up a ball, we might say something such as, “oh, you found a small red ball!” which then exposes them to not just the color, size and item, but also sentence structure and appropriate intonation and cadence. This is something you can easily do with your child anywhere you go – the grocery store, school, the park – everywhere is a potential “classroom” to label items and actions!
As always, if you feel there is something beyond what you can handle, please contact your therapy team or pediatrician for advice, but also feel empowered that you can do small things to help enrich your child’s language skills!
*This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used to replace consultation with your doctor or qualified health professional.