Helping your child with speech and language

Helping your child with speech and language

Making ourselves understood, understanding others and knowing how to say what we want to say are really important skills.

For children, gaining confidence with language is essential for development. Good language skills help children make friends, communicate and to develop a love of learning.

We all know how difficult it is when we go abroad and struggle to understand what people are saying and to make ourselves understood. Imagine how tricky it is for our little ones to communicate effectively when they are hearing new words, sounds and phrases every day!

Children don’t just automatically start to talk – they need our help. In the nursery, we are always thinking about speech, language and communication, but you can also help at home. So here are some top tips to help your child develop important language skills to get the best start in life!

  1. Get your child’s attention. Make eye contact with them, smile, say their name and talk gently about objects they can see, pointing to the objects.

  2. Have fun. Engage with your child using silly actions, songs and faces.

  3. Use comments not questions. Constant questions are stressful for all of us, we feel like it’s a test or trick. Instead make conversation about what you are doing, the situation you are in or what you both can see.

  4. Let them think. Children need more time to process than adults, so give your child time, perhaps count to ten before asking again or pressing them and give them time to engage in conversation.

  5. Simple and repeat. Keep your sentences and phrases simple and short, for example, “lunchtime now”. Consistently use the same words for things and repeat them. Children need to hear new words many times in order to understand them and gain confidence in using them.

  6. Avoid overuse of dummies. Pacifiers get in the way of talking, take them away during the day and keep them for use at sleep times if needed.

  7. Correct mistakes positively. If your child sees a cat and says “tac”, rather than saying “no, that’s a cat”, say “yes cat, I can see the cat”. By doing this you can expand your child’s sentences. If your child says “hands” you can say “wash hands”. If they say “bus” you can say “yes, a big bus”.

  8. Use the correct words right from the start. For example, use “dog” instead of “woof woof”, this will save them having to learn something twice!

  9. Remove distractions. Create some special time and make listening and speaking practice easier by turning off the TV, radio, tablet or any other distracting devices.

We hope you find these tips helpful. Please remember every child is different and speech skills develop at different rates. If you are worried about your child’s speech and language please talk to a member of staff who will be able to help and guide you.