Five tips to support early language development

Laughing Mother And Baby outdoors. Nature. Beauty Mum and her Child playing in Park together. Outdoor Portrait of Smiling and Happy family. Joy. Mom and Baby

Australia’s Raising Children’s Network offers practical tips to support early language development.  Here are five simple tasks they suggest to encourage speech and develop literacy.

Talk with your baby

Treating your baby as a talker should begin straight away. When you finish talking, give her a turn and wait for a response – those sounds and babbles are the beginning of language development.

Respond to your baby

As your baby starts to use gestures and words, you should respond. For example, if your child points to a toy, respond as if your child is saying, ‘Can I have that?’ or ‘I like that’.  Use words when you respond and explain why.  It is amazing how much babies have to say, even before words develop.

Everyday talking

Talk about what is happening and even if your baby doesn’t understand right now, they soon will. Use lots of different words, describe what you’re doing, and talk about the things they are doing.

When your child starts telling stories, encourage them to talk about things in the past and in the future. Discuss plans for the next day. Introduce new words.

It’s important for children to hear different words in different contexts. This helps them learn the meaning and function of words.

Reading

Read and share books with your baby and keep using more complex books as they grow. Talk about the pictures. Use a variety of books and link what’s in the book to what’s happening in your child’s life. Books with interesting pictures are a great focus for talking.  Point to words as you say them as this shows your child the link between written and spoken words.

Following your child’s lead

If your child starts a conversation through talking, gesture or behaviour, respond to it, making sure you stick to the topic your child started.  Repeat and build on what your child says. For example, if she says, ‘Apple,’ you can say, ‘You want an apple. You want a red apple. Let’s have a red apple together’.

 

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