If you read my first post you know vocabulary building is extremely important in the early years if you want to combat the word gap. If you're unsure of what the word gap is, the previous post provides an overview. Reading is one of the major ways parents can introduce children to new vocabulary. Today I want to talk to you about another form of defense against the word gap: TALKING, TALKING, and TALKING some more!
There is nothing better to a child than the sound of his parents. Parents' voices soothed the baby while she was in her mother's womb and continue to provide that soothing feeling after birth. But, the parental voice isn't just a sound of comfort, it is also an academic tool.
The more words a child hears early in the life corresponds with academic success later on. Therefore, we must seize every opportunity we have put words in the air for our children. Talk, Talk, Talk to your children, and then find time to talk some more. I'm not talking about the daily commands that are repeated throughout the day.
"Don't touch that"
Yes, there is language being heard here, but it's limited and it's reactive. Very few words are being used and it's not cemented in the most positive interaction. Now, I'm not saying that children do not need to be told to "go sit down" at times because there are times when I have to tell my one year old just that (like when she's attacking the cat). I'm just saying that we want language development to be rooted in positive interactions. I could say more about this, but that's another post.
We want our conversations to have a variety of words for our children to hear and commit to memory. Your little boy may not be able to say "chair" when he's 5 months, but if you keep saying "chair" when you sit down, he will make the connection between that thing you sat your body on and the word chair. Eventually, "chair" will be a word in his everyday speech.
Ok, so talk to my baby. Got it! But how? It's not like my baby understands what I'm saying or can add to the conversation. It feels weird. I know, it feels weird at first, but if you do it enough, it becomes an easy habit. Here are some ways to make sure your precious child is hearing words daily.
Share your dream with child when you wake up. It can be short and simple. For example: "Good Morning! Last night I dreamed that I was running from a talking robot that had magical powers." If you are one of those people who do not remember your dreams (like me), make one up.
Share your plans for the day. Again, it can be short in simple. For example: "Today I'm going to work, and then I'm going to pick you up at 6:00" or "Today I'm off so I'm going to stay home and cook."
Narrate what you're doing. This is major because we are constantly doing something so the opportunity for words to get put into the air is endless. You can do this by simply saying everything you are doing out loud. For example, if you are washing dishes your narration could sound like this: "I am pouring dish washing liquid on the sponge. Now, I'm washing the plate that I used to eat during dinner....here's the spoon you used to eat yogurt with...I am washing all the dry food from the spoon."
If you drive, cut the radio off and narrate the commute. For example: "We are driving straight down the street....Now mommy is stopping for a red light...There are 3 people crossing the street and I see one person riding a bicycle...The light is green so we can drive again...Now mommy is making a right turn...Now mommy is making a left turn, but I have to wait for the right of way..." You get the point.
Talk out everything you do in the supermarket. Don't worry about people looking at you while you're talking. You're doing this for your child's wellbeing. For example: "Let's get a shopping cart...First stop, the produce aisle...This bag of salad with spinach and lettuce will do...Now let's go to the meat aisle...We need chicken and ground beef...Ok, now let's go get some cleaning supplies..."
As you can see, the opportunities to speak to your child present themselves every day in almost every way. As parents we just have to be proactive and mindful. Keep in mind that the goal is to increase your child's vocabulary which will help with reading, writing, and math skills. Please use these tips whenever and wherever you can. Trust me when I tell you that it works.
Hope you enjoyed this piece.
Until Next Time,