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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Here’s extract 17 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’d like to get in touch, maybe with a question on babies, toddlers and language development, or any communication topic, feel free to email me through the Contact Me tab at the top of the blog. Questions you ask may find their way (anonymously) into the new Frequently Asked Questions page. find it by clicking the tap at the top of the page.

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.

Here are two more games to play with your child, to help him understand language. These are both sorting games. They help him explore the relationship between different objects, their similarities adn differences. They also your child move from recognising real objects and toys to pictures, an important step in learning about symbols. Understanding symbols underpins his languge skills, and also, later, his ability to learn to read.

Understanding activities: sorting
Help him sort things into boxes. Collect a wide range of toys and pictures. Make sure you include things that look different but have the same name. Include a red sock, a short sock, a long sock, a picture of a sock and a dirty sock, to go in one box, for example. Different kinds of pencils, or brushes, or books will go in the other boxes.
Sort them into the boxes with him, using the objects’ names and discussing how they are the same and how they are different.  Point out that all the socks have a toe and a heel, but that one sock is longer, or cleaner, or a different colour than the other one.
Understanding activities: post box
When you’ve played many times with real objects or small toys, start to introduce pictures for some of your games. Here’s a game to boost his understanding of different objects and their word labels.
Many words fit into pairs of opposites. “Hot” is the opposite of “cold” and “high” is the opposite of “low”. Learning to recognise the contrasts between these characteristics helps your child establish important ideas such as size, shape, number and volume. 
 
This simple sorting game helps him learn about ‘big’ and  ‘small’, ‘fat’ and ‘thin’, ‘high’ and ‘low’. 
Make two post boxes out of old cardboard boxes by cutting holes in the front.  
Collect pictures that show opposites, using the concepts of size and height. Make sure you have several pictures of each kind of item and that the big items are very clearly much bigger than the small ones. Big things should fill the whole page, while small things should sit right in the middle with plenty of plain space around them.
Select two pictures, for example, a big face and a small face. Play a posting game, by putting the big face in one box and the small face in the other. 
Move on to pictures of fat things and thin things, open things and closed things, and play the game again.
Avoid introducing more than one concept at a time: spend several sessions on big and small, and then wait a while before moving on to fat and thin.
Later, you can begin to introduce the idea of some big things being even bigger than other big things. Point things out in the street and keep the conversation going. 
Your child learns to understand big and very big, before he can manage big and bigger.

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