Language and speech are primarily learned through imitation and observation. During infancy, babies listen to their parents talk and they pay close attention when someone talks to them. This observation of casual conversation is the foundation for a child's understanding of their native language.
There are several activities and games you and your child can engage in to enhance her language development. While your little one is still an infant, encourage her to imitate simple syllables like "ma" or "da". Repeat any sounds your baby attempts and praise her efforts. Talk to your infant often, using everyday activities like feedings or bath time as opportunities to develop new language skills. Describe everything you do and name the everyday objects you and your little one come in contact with.
Gestures and understanding their meanings are an important part of early language skills so teach your infant to wave goodbye, to nod yes, and to shake her head no. Imitating these simple gestures will help her learn nursery rhymes and songs during her toddler years. Reading to your child on a daily basis is vital to language development. Begin reading to your baby at birth and continue throughout childhood.
By her first birthday, your baby will most likely know how to say a few words. Encourage her speech by expanding on her simple words and phrases. Read picture books that emphasize animals, colors, shapes, or everyday objects. Say the names of the pictures and allow your little one to point to the correct object. Remember to praise her efforts and attempts.
Once your child reaches her preschool years, she will have a good grasp on language and should be talking in complete sentences. Continue to read to your child. Reading favorite story books again and again has been proven to enhance early language development and can improve reading comprehension skills. Nursery rhymes and silly songs also help your child learn speech patterns and language skills.
Talk to your preschooler and listen when she talks to you. Repeat her sentences to correct any pronunciation or grammatical errors without chastising her mistakes. Encourage her oral language and her vocabulary skills by naming common objects, familiar people, and body parts and then describing them. Ask questions that require your child to make a choice rather than answer yes or no. Support your preschoolers emerging language skills by requiring her to use her words to ask for things or to explain her feelings when she gets upset.
Make your own picture book with your child. Help your preschooler colllect pictures of her favorite toys, animals, people, and things and then allow her to sort the pictures into groups. Glue the pictures onto paper and have your child dictate the labels as you write. Read your picture book together often and add new pictures and words as her vocabulary grows.
My First Amazing Diary is a great software program to enhance language development. This educational software has several fun games that allow your preschooler to express herself through pictures. The program will grow with your child and her language development, encouraging simple word use and pictures to create stories and journal entries at level two and offering creative story starters and interactive journaling at level three.