Home Recommendations for Young Children
Increasing Language Skills
1. One objective at home should be to increase word understanding and use of two and three word utterances. Your child needs to develop understanding that it is the relationship between words and not just individual words that determine meaning of an utterance. At home, you can present activities that demonstrate possible uses of objects and actions among objects (e.g. boy doll pushes car, throwing a ball). Have your child imitate non-verbal agent-action or action-object relationships such as these. Accompany your demonstration with the appropriate words that mark the action (e.g. “Look, boy push car” or “Look, throwing ball”).This will place the verbal input onto highly meaningful context to aid your child in making the connection between the action and the words. When possible, elicit verbal imitations from your child as he/she demonstrates the action. You might say “Tell me, ‘boy push car’.”
2. Another goal you can work on at home is to increase understanding of words in the following categories.
a) words that describe the location of objects including here, there, down, in, on;
b) words that describe the act of disappearing or reappearing such as all gone, away, more; and
c) words that are used for requests for possession including my, mine, me.
For example, when getting your child dressed, talk about my shoe, more shoes, shoe on, and/or all gone shoes to help her/him develop a broader understanding of words used in combination so they move beyond the level of just recognizing the names of thing.
3. When your child uses a single word such as car or ball, expand his/her utterance. For example, if he/she says car , you might say “Yes, car. Car going.” If he/she says ball , say “Yes, throwing ball” or “(name of child) throwing ball.” As you expand the single word utterance, you are providing him/her with the tools to express a more complete idea and you are exposing him/her to the grammatical rules that govern combining words.
4. It is always a good time to get your child interested in picture books. For as little as 3 to 5 minutes at a time, have her/him sit with you as you page through books naming objects and describing actions to her/him. If she/he responds on her/his own to a picture, praise her/him for naming the picture and expand her/his response. For example, “Good (name of child), it is a bird; bird is flying.”
5. As you dress your child or do other routine activities, describe what is happening. For example, while dressing, say “putting on sock, sock on foot; putting on shoe, shoe goes on foot.. When bathing your child, say “washing hair, washing hands, washing (name of child)’s hands.” Doing this will help increase your child’s vocabulary, his/her understanding of the functions of specific words, and his/her understanding of the meaning of word combinations.
6. When talking to your child or when giving simple commands, supplement what you say with gestures when possible. For example, you might say “(name of child) want up?” while holding your hands up. This provides her/him with cues that may help her/him better understand and learn what the words being spoken mean.