Language development is huge. HUGE. Not just for kiddos with autism or Down’s Syndrome, but for every kid. Every single one of them. If you aren’t talking to your kiddos they aren’t going to talk to you. Is there a right way to talk to babies and toddlers? Yes. Yes there is.
Take a seat my dear friend. Let’s talk about a very important language concept: description. Description? We aren’t talking about “the dress is form fitting with a plunging lace trimmed neckline.” We are talking about “the car is fast.”
There are a few key parts of description. I love bullet points. Here they come…..
- What’s your child doing RIGHT NOW? We don’t need to talk about what they did or what they are going to/should/will do. Toddlers and younger have no concept of the past or future, so stick with the now. Example: “Eating paper! Oooh yummy paper!”
- Keep it simple. If your sentences are more than five words long, it is too long. You are talking to a baby or toddler, not your college professor. Who are you trying to impress? If you tell your little one “The cow is jumping over the fence to try and catch the horse,” that kiddo is going to get nothing. Not a single word of that mess. Tell them “The cow jumped!” Ta da! You just greatly increased your kid’s chances of repeating the words “cow” or “jump.” Good work!
- Avoid questions. Kids learn new words by hearing them, not by being asked to say them. You are not going to teach your child to say “puppy” by pointing at a dog and saying “what’s that?” or having them guess “what says woof woof?” You are going to teach your kid by pointing to a dog and saying “Puppy! The puppy says woof!”
Let your child play. Description is called description because you are “describing” what your child is doing. Don’t make them play a certain way. Your child’s language is not going to improve at a faster rate whether Barbie is playing mommy or if her legs are being used to stir a pot of soup. Their interest is in their own play, not how you want them to play.
What are you still doing here? Get playing people!!