Language is truly an amazing thing. It has the power to foster relationships, get us wherever we want to go, and make a clear open window into our minds where there once was a brick wall, or a muddy entryway. Language is so deeply ingrained into our everyday lives – can you think of the last time you learned something new or felt an emotion that did not, in some way, involve words?
Children are exposed to more language patterns through the world around them than a speech therapist could ever provide during a 30-minute session. Stop signs, billboards, storefronts, and lake shores are all potential opportunities to foster language growth. Sometimes, with a few solid strategies in hand, a moment of pause to take in the scenery could turn into a chance for a child to learn something new.
Here are a few options you could try that don’t involve sitting down at a table with your kiddo after dinner.
- Take a walk down the block and talk about the things you see. “Here are red flowers, but THERE are orange flowers. This tree is big, but that tree is little. So many houses, doggies, and fences!”
- Next time you’re driving together in the car, point out the images on the big signs you pass by. “Look, I see a big red sign! It says S, T, O, P, stop! Time to stop the car.”
- Plant an herb garden together in the backyard.
- Describe what you are doing and why.
- Give directions and support your child in following them.
- Encourage them to ask for what they need and talk about what they are doing. “Time to shovel the dirt. Look, let’s put a seed in the dirt! Why don’t you help me? Cover the seed like this.”