Help Your Child Talk: Telling Stories Your Toddler Will Love

Welcome  to  Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: this week’s extract from the SpeechContacts Kindle and your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk. 
This week, there’s more about making up stories for your child. It’s so easy. Enjoy watching as your child uses his own creativity to join in with your storytelling.

One of the great things about toddlers is they just love repetition. So use the same words and sentences in your story: the more you repeat, the more he’ll love it. 
 
Here’s a story designed to encourage short phrases. It’s built around the phrases “teddy eats” and “eats banana/cake/etc”. When you make up similar stories, just follow these rules:
  1. Keep the phrases short.
  2. Repeat the same words many times.
  3. Tell the story often.
Hungry Teddy
Teddy is hungry. Mummy gives him a banana. 

Teddy eats the banana.    Teddy is still hungry. 

  

Mummy gives him a cake. Teddy eats the cake. But Teddy is still hungry.


Mummy gives him a biscuit. Teddy eats the biscuit. But Teddy is still hungry…. 

And so on … Then make a big finish:    
                          
Teddy is full right up and he isn’t hungry any more.

When you make up your stories about everyday objects, why not take photos of the objects, print them out and stick them in a book. Hey presto, your child has his very own story book. Or you can download pictures like the ones here, from dreamstime.com 
More storytelling posts here:
Storytelling for Toddlers
Five Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing


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Two More Games To Help Your Child With Her First Words

Welcome  to two more games to Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: this week’s extract from the SpeechContacts Kindle and your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk. 

Here are two more easy activities for you to enjoy with your toddler, designed to encourage him to use his new words.


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Teddy’s bath time
Coolect together Teddy, a toy/baby bath or washing-up bowl, plus pretend soap, sponge, towel, toothbrush and toothpaste. 
 
Geddy a pretend bath, naming each part of his body. Say “wash Teddy’s nose”, “wash Teddy’s mouth”, “wash Teddy’s ears”, and carry out the action, with your child joining in.
Then try “dry Teddy’s nose”, “dry Teddy’s mouth”, “dry Teddy’s ears”. As the game continues, leave a longer and longer gap before the name of the body part. Say “wash Teddy’s …” and see if your child will fill in the next word.  If not, just say the word yourself.
In the bag
Make a simple cloth bag if you can sew, or ask a grandparent to make one for you: they’ll be thrilled to help. Avoid using plastic bags, because of the danger of suffocation.  
Put a few toys in the bag, and then sit facing your child with the bag in your hand.  Say, “What’s in the bag today?” and pull out the first toy, showing great excitiment,  naming it and giving it to your child.
Continue until all the toys are out, then help him to put them back in one at a time, saying to him, “in the bag,” “car in the bag,” “dolly in the bag,” and so on.
Let him join in with you, but don’t worry if he doesn’t say the words himself at first. 
He soon will.

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Six Ways to Help Your Child Talk: Activities to Encourage Your Child’s First Words


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Welcome  to Six Ways to Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: this week’s extract and your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.  

If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. At the end of each week’s post you’ll see a link to take you on to the next extract. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.

Speech: activities for babies
Play with sounds with your baby. When he babbles, saying “bababa’” or “gaga”, he’s enjoying the sounds he’ll use later in his speech. Repeat them back to him. Try out a whole range of speech sounds with him, and watch him enjoy it.
Speech: baby activities: labels
Repeat the names of things, many times. He needs to hear the word “drink” dozens of times before he recognises it as the symbol or label for the stuff he drinks. Remember, groups of sounds are not words until they have meaning, so supply him with the words alongside babble play.
Speech: baby activities: puzzles
Play with a heavy wooden puzzle, where each piece is a picture of an object, and lifts out of a board. When you pull out a piece, say the name. Let your child pull out another one, and say the word with him.
Speech: baby activities: books
Look at picture books together. Choose some that have a single object on each page. Collect real objects to match the pictures and keep them in a box. As you turn to each picture, help him search through the box for the matching object. Say each word clearly.
Speech: baby activities: word games
Use daily activities to teach new words. At bath time, say the name of each part of your child’s body as you wash it. At mealtimes, name the cutlery and crockery. Don’t ask him to repeat your words, and don’t say “Say shoe,” but when he makes sounds that are a bit like an appropriate word, say the word back to him, in the adult version. His sounds will soon become that real word.
Speech: baby activities: my book
Make a scrapbook of things your child knows. Include photos of family members and pets. Put in pictures from magazines, of cups, toys and clothes that look like ones he knows well. Put his photo on the outside and write his name on it. 
Sit down often to look at the book. Talk in simple sentences about each picture. Make sure you use the name of the object often. 
Say, “Look, there’s Jane. She’s got a hat on.” Your child will love his very own book, all about himself. He’ll soon start saying the names.

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First Words: Help Your Child To Talk

Your baby’s learned to pay attention and to listen. He’s beginning to understand you when you talk to him and during his second year, at some point, he’ll start to use words himself.
 
In this extract from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk, we look at how he arrives at those very first words. 
If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.   
Speech: infants
Your baby depends on you to keep him alive, warm and comfortable. His first cries are the only way he can communicate with you, and he cries with a sound that you just can’t ignore. You’re right in your instincts to use his cries as a signal that you need to look after him. 
Doctors now know that the stress of prolonged crying encourages the production of the chemical cortisol, as Penelope Leach points out in her book “The Essential First Year – What Babies Need Parents to Know”. It’s true that humans all need cortisol, to help reduce inflammation and encourage the metabolism of some foods, too much in the brain can slow development. 
It doesn’t hurt your baby to cry a little: all babies cry sometimes, but remember that he is communicating with you in the only way he can, and be responsive.
When you feel you need to do something for him, you’re right. That’s what he’s telling you with his cries.
In the early days and weeks, you might notice he uses slightly different cries for a variety of purposes. He may have a hungry cry, for example, that you notice is different from the cry he uses when he’s uncomfortable. By 3 months, he’ll know he can use his voice to tell you when he’s pleased or unhappy; excited or tired, and from now on, you’ll hear plenty of coos, gurgles and shouts.
Speech: listening skills
Remember that second key: listening. He’s been listening all the time: to the things around; to human voices and, most importantly, to your voice. He’s heard your intonation patterns: the tune of your speech as your voice rises and falls. He’s heard your voice rise in a question, get louder when you’re annoyed, become low and soft when you play baby games with him.
Speech: practice
Meanwhile, he enjoys his own noises. “Ga ga” he says, his tongue falling naturally into that position. He likes it, repeats it and finds other sounds that are fun. Soon he starts babbling and he finds that you join in, encouraging all the noises, repeating strings of nonsense back to him. 
Between 6 months and 1 year, he plays often with babbling noises, trying out all the sounds of speech. He doesn’t stick to his native language, but includes sounds he’ll never need to use. Over time, his babbling begins to sound more and more like your speech, even though there are no real words there yet.
His strings of sounds get longer and he joins them together until he produces something that seems just like the intonation patterns of speech. At this point, parents sometimes feel their baby is trying to talk. He is playing with sounds, getting ready to launch himself into speech, and it’s not until he can sequence his sounds with a meaningful word that real speech begins.
Speech: feedback
At some point during this sound play, he hits on a combination of sounds that resemble a word.
“Da,” he says as his father picks him up, “Da-da-da.”
Delighted, his father smiles, cuddles him and repeats the word. What a reward. He tries that again. Every time he makes that combination of sounds, at the right time, you’ll celebrate, repeat it and reinforce it. As his accuracy improves, he gets it right every time, encouraged by your excited feedback. There it is – “daddy”: his first word.
Your child’s first word may be something different. Maybe he says “Mama” first. 
If you’re finding these extracts useful, and can’t wait to read the rest of the ebook, just download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter to your Kindle in seconds for only £3.53 ($5.73).

Help Your Child Talk; Boxes, Bricks and Play

Welcome to the latest extract from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.
If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.  

In recent weeks, we’ve been looking at the real importance of play for learning to talk. Play, after all, is the thing that toddlers do best. Learning to pretend in his play is one of your child’s ways of understanding symbols, getting ready for the highly complex way he’ll be using words and grammar to express his meaning before long. 
Here’s one of my favourite toys for helping your child to talk.
Play: stages
Remember that learning to symbolise is a sophisticated skill. Your child needs to go through the full sequence of development, in the right order, to learn about symbols. He needs to see, feel, hear, touch and taste real objects, finding out what they can do, before he plays with miniature people, houses and cars. 
He puts a few objects together in play, finding out that they’re still there even when he can’t see them and seeing how they relate to each other. Then he gradually advances to play sequences, where he can carry out whole teddy tea parties or pretend bath times. 
He can’t skip from the first exploratory stage to complicated play sequences, no matter how many times you show him, until he’s ready. 
His nervous system develops gradually. Remember that the pathways between the neurons in his brain are still developing fast in his first three years. He needs to repeat activities many times. At last the pathway becomes permanent through constant use, just like the path a cat wears in the garden from the door to her favourite sleeping quarters.

Play: your role

While your child investigates and experiments, your task is to encourage his play and offer him opportunities to develop to the next stage. Let him take his time. Think of yourself as a facilitator or helper, offering opportunities not lessons, and be guided by the things he enjoys. Be prepared to observe him, provide what he needs and play with him.

Join in with him. Give him opportunities to extend his play. Recognise that he’s constantly learning. As he pours water into a jar, he learns about volume, fluids and size. Use the words “water”, “pour” and “big” or “small” as you play with him.   

When he starts to play with two objects together, at around a year old, you can help by offering boxes to put things in and bricks to build up. Let him bang his spoon on the (plastic) plate and rattle it in the cup. You can clean up the mess later.

Enjoy doll’s tea parties together, bath teddy and dress him before putting him to bed. Build up play sequences. Introduce smaller toys and less obvious representations of the real thing, such as Duplo characters. 

Match toys to pictures in books, saying ‘Look, shoes like yours,’ pointing at the picture, then at your child’s shoes.

Play activities: Teddy’s tea party
Spend time setting out a tea table. If you can get hold of a table and chairs that are a suitable size for Teddy to sit on, they’re ideal. Otherwise, use the family dining table, or a child – sized table. Include places for Teddy along with one or two other toys. Set the table with plates, spoons, cups, saucers, teapots, milk jugs and play food if you have it, and sit Teddy and his friends on their chairs. 
Let your child play happily with the tea things, and join in with him. Offer Teddy a drink, and suggest your child offers a drink to another toy, or some pretend food. Use simple language, such as “Teddy’s hungry”, “Teddy’s drinking”, “give Teddy a biscuit”. 

Try making a pretend cup of tea by “pouring” from the teapot and milk jug into the cups, and stirring with a spoon.  As he grows, your child will join with longer sequences.





 If you’re finding these extracts useful, and can’t wait to read the rest of the ebook, just download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter to your Kindle in seconds for only £3.53 ($5.73).