- If your child is not ready to talk yet, actions and signs can be a great alternative for effective communication. For example, waving bye-bye, blowing a kiss, or shaking the head “no”. The more the caretaker models the behavior with the meaning of the phrase, the easier it will be for the child to understand the motion. Wave goodbye to your child every time you separate from them so they can start to associate waving with leaving. Once they understand the meaning of the wave, they will begin to imitate the action.
- Once your child is starting to make sounds, imitate the sounds they are making. If your child says, “ooh” repeat “ooh” back to teach the concept of turn taking. Once your child is familiar with how turn taking works, try to incorporate a new sound such as “aah”. You might be surprised to hear your child say it back to you! It is important to only introduce new sounds instead of words.
- If your child is becoming more vocal, join him or her at playtime. For example, if a child is playing with a toy cow and says “moo,” you can take the toy and imitate the same motion by saying “moo” back. The child is now aware that you want to play. Continue to take turns by moving the cow and saying “moo”. The child will begin to anticipate your response after every time he or she says “moo”. Once the child is comfortable, you can introduce new sounds or words to improve their communication skills. For example, pick up the cat toy and say “meow”. Your child might realize it is their turn and imitate you by saying “meow” in response.
Receptive language develops best in the child’s natural environment. It is important to implement these strategies into your daily routine to see the most success from your child. For more great activities and examples click here.