Our toddlers’ first few years of life are the most critical in his or her learning process. Katie, a paediatric speech therapist, mother, and fellow blog writer, helps us out with some tips to encourage and help language and speech development for toddlers.
Try to remember to slow the pace when you get a chance to have a conversation with your toddler. Children learn language in everyday situations. Routine activities are some of the best times to talk to your toddler because these are the moments they learn the most! Don’t forget to slow down how fast you talk too, especially if your child is struggling with speech and language development.
You may be surprised by how often you say things to your child while you are turned away from each other. To help your toddler learn language and to be a better communicator, not only should you slow down, but you should also look at your child when you speak and try to kneel down to get at his or her level. This helps your child focus on you and what you have to say and lessens the surrounding distractions.
In today’s busy life, time is of the essence. We expect quick results everywhere we turn. Fast food, fast-forwarding commercials, express oil changes, you name it, there’s a faster way of doing it! But this isn’t how children learn language. They need our help and they need us to be patient. Make sure you allow enough time for your child to respond to you. You may not even realize but sometimes we are doing too much for them rather than waiting to see if they can do it on their own.
While teaching your child numbers, shapes, and colors is important, you don’t want to focus too much on this during their first few years. Of course, don’t exclude them, but you should expose them in more natural situations. These first few years are their brains’ most absorbent times! So let letters and numbers slowly intertwine themselves into his or her vocabulary. We don’t want our child’s vocabulary to only be made up of these so try to communicate about everything you and your child see in his or her environment. When your child points at something, talk about it. Ask questions and wait for them to answer. Narrate what you both are doing. Talk to them, don’t just sing the ABCs.
We’re not the only ones who have to go to work each day. Our kids go to work when they play. Playtime, which is of course fun, is also a very important time for children to learn. Children learn and use language within their play, so it’s important to have good toys!
Limit bright-colored toys that light up, talk, and play music. These toys are doing all the work themselves rather than our kids doing the work. She suggests toys that allow for many open-ended play opportunities like blocks and balls. One of her favorites is play phones, which is a toy that definitely encourages language!
Lastly, she expresses the benefits of rotating your child’s toys. This way, it saves money and keeps your child from getting bored because it seems like a new toy every time! It also helps your child learn even more because it gives him or her an opportunity to refresh skills that have been “put away” for a while.
If you are interested in speech therapy for toddlers, click here to learn more about speech therapy for toddlers at NAPA Centre.
NAPA offers speech therapy for toddlers to address delays and disorders in expressive/receptive language, articulation, oral motor dysfunction, apraxia of speech, social language, fluency, feeding and swallowing, and cognitive skills. We provide weekly speech therapy sessions to local families near our clinics and intensive therapy sessions which families travel from around the world to attend. If you think your child or loved one may benefit from speech therapy, please contact our team to begin your child’s journey!