March 2022 Newsletter -Speech and Language Development: Promoting Speech and Language Development

Promoting Speech and Language Development

From the earliest age, the best way to promote speech and language development is to model skills by simply talking with children.  When others speak, infants are exposed to the sounds of speech as well as the patterns of grammar and sentence structure.

Early learning environments, including infant and toddler rooms, should be filled with light-hearted and joyful conversations. Conversations can be initiated by paying close attention to what the children are doing or showing interest in.  For example, a teacher can describe what they notice children doing or strike up a conversation about something that had grabbed a child’s attention.  Take a moment to reflect on the amount of time spent engaged in meaningful conversations with children versus the amount of directive or corrective language that you are using in the classroom.  If you feel like most of your interactions are focused on giving directions or addressing issues, make an effort to infuse more casual conversations into your day.

Playing turn-taking talking games with children, even when they are only babbling, models the natural flow of back-and-forth conversations. As children age, the language games can change to include riddles and rhyming games. Songs and fingerplays are also great ways to build speech and language skills.

Reading to children is another vital opportunity to introduce new vocabulary words and create strong bonds with children. Introduce a variety of literature to children including poetry, fables, and works of nonfiction. Doing so will help ensure that children are exposed to a wide variety of vocabulary words and styles of language.

Ask lots of questions. At first, children may point to objects in the environment if you ask them where something is located.  They will soon develop the ability to use short phrases to respond to your questions.  As they age, children will develop the thinking and language skills to answer more complex “How?” and “Why?” questions.

When children mispronounce words, it is sufficient to simply repeat the word or phrase back to them using the correct pronunciation. For example, if a child tells you, “I had take for my burtday” you can say “Oh, you got to eat cake on your birthday? Cake is my favorite treat!” This example illustrated how adults can model the appropriate pronunciation (which children likely know, but their oral motor muscles are not yet able to produce) and expand upon what children say. Another example of expanding on children’s language would be to say “Yes, that is a big red fire truck” when a child points to a firetruck and says “tuck.

Model non-verbal communication skills in addition to verbal parts of speech. Show children they have your attention by putting down your pen, turning your face toward them and making eye contact.  Nod as the child speaks and use appropriate facial expressions in response to what children say.  It is important to not force children to engage in these non-verbal cues, just act as a model and have fun!

For the main article Speech and Language Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Elements of Speech and Language Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Speech and Language Development Milestones, CLICK HERE

For the article Augmentative and Alternative Communication Tools, CLICK HERE