Parents play a critical role in a child's language development. Studies have shown that children who are read to and spoken with a great deal during early childhood will have larger vocabularies and better grammar than those who aren't according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Incorporating enriching language into your child’s daily life doesn’t have to be a planned activity. Children can improve language skills by simply listening to and observing the world around them. An easy way to provide great language input for your kids is to narrate your actions and your child’s actions. Describe what you are doing, use a variety of descriptive words, and label things in your environment around you.
Here are some simple ways to incorporate language into daily activities with your child:
Dressing - Talk about your child’s clothes as they are dressing. Discuss the size, color, texture, name of specific items.
Examples: “Do you want a blue or green shirt?”
“Now let’s put on your pants. Put your leg through here.”
“This part is called a sleeve. Your shirt has two of them.”
Meals - Talk with your child as you prepare food. Describe the size, color, shape, texture, smell, and names of food items. You can also explain the steps you take to prepare food, such as; washing, cutting, measuring, etc.
Examples: “First, we’re going to wash the apple. This apple is red and round.”
“I’m spreading the peanut butter on the bread. It’s crunchy and sticky.”
“I’m putting water in the pot to boil. Boiling means the water gets really hot.”
Shopping - Tell your child what you are looking for in the store, then tell him or her where you will look for it. You can also ask your child where he or she thinks certain items might be. Label objects as you pass them.
Examples: “I need to buy soap. I’m going to look for it by the cleaning supplies.”
“Where do you think we should look for bananas?”
Bath time - Tell your child what steps you are taking to get him or her ready for a bath. Describe your actions and talk about body parts.
Examples: “First we have to turn on the water. Let’s make sure it’s not too hot.”
“Let’s use shampoo in our hair, then we wash arms and legs.”
“What toy do you want to play with in the bathtub?”
Bedtime - Describe the steps your child needs to take to be ready for bed as he or she is doing them, such as: put on pajamas, brush teeth, turn off the lights. Read a book with your child. Describe the pictures, ask him or her questions about the story, and point to words/letters as you read.
Examples: “Let’s brush teeth. We brush our teeth to keep them clean and healthy.”
“These pajamas are soft and they’ll keep you warm while you sleep.”
“Look at this page. What do you think will happen next?”
A great amount of learning can take place when children are involved in their daily routine. It's an important way for us, as parents, to take part in our child’s development.