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Children who are exposed to a lot of words learn to speak sooner.  This is why it is so important to talk to your child when he is young and read to him often.  It’s exciting when your child can finally communicate with you through words.  There are things you can do to help his language develop even further. 

  1. Provide opportunities for your child to talk and use words.
    1. Answer questions with questions.
    2. Ask questions with how? when? what?
    3. Turnabouts – when a child asks a question, answer it and ask a question back.
    4. Draw out more information – Examples: “Tell me more.”  “What do you mean by that?” etc.
  2. Build their vocabulary.
    1. Teach them new words and meanings.
    2. Expand on a child’s statement in a different or expanded form – Example: Child says, “Big ball”, you say, “Enormous ball.”  Instead of saying, “Good job”, say “Tremendous job” or “Excellent job” etc.
  3. Don’t be critical when they say a word or sentence incorrectly.
    1. Children will often coin new words or phrases – Examples: fruit berries, tie the knot undone, pounder (hammer), no take bath, open door me, etc.
    2. Children will put endings where they don’t belong – Examples: puts, goed, etc.
    3. Children will pronounce things incorrectly – Example: cracker is quacker, etc.
    4. Children will hear something and revise it spontaneously – Examples: Chip & Dale is Chicken Dale, Gladly the cross I bear is Gradly the cross-eyed bear, etc.
    5. Children prefer voiced consonants (B, D, G) rather than unvoiced consonants (P, T, K) – Examples: vanilla is banilla, Casey is Asey, etc.
    6. Children drop one consonant off of words with double consonants – Examples: Spoon is poon, throw is tow, banana is nanna, etc.
    7. Children drop the hissing sound (sssss) – Example: spoon is poon, etc.
    8. Children delete unstressed syllables in a multi-syllable word – Example: banana is nanna, etc.

When young children say a phrase or word incorrectly it’s important to be subtle when correcting them.  Instead of saying, “No, that’s wrong.  It’s not banilla, it’s vanilla”, etc., say the word correctly in your own sentence and your child will pick up on it.  Say, “That’s right, I’m putting the vanilla in the cookies”, etc.  When you correct them harshly your child may be afraid of saying new words or things for fear he’ll say them wrong.  This doesn’t encourage your child to speak more and in turn won’t help him develop his language skills.  You can start to be less subtle in your corrections when your child reaches 4 or 5 years old.

Practicing these simple steps will help your child’s language skills grow and will help him be more competent in his vocabulary and speech.

Note: This information is from notes taken during a Parenting class taken in 2006 as well as from my own personal and thoughts and experiences.

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