Daily Activities to Increase Your Childs Language Skills

By Dorothy P. Dougherty

The size of your child's vocabulary is a strong predictor of reading success. One reason children do not become proficient readers, is because they don't have a functional vocabulary that enables them to understand the words they read.

Scientific research has found that the more language your child hears and the more responsive you are to his communications - even his earliest babbling sounds- the more his inborn ability to acquire language will be enhanced. The natural way for your child to learn the meaning of words is to listen to you talk in relation to the daily events going on around you. In this way, he learns to associate the words you say with the action, objects or thoughts you describe.

Using Daily Routine Activities

You can expose your child to a large number and variety of words by making talking a part of everything you and your child do together. To a young child, the whole world is new and even the most routine activities are learning experiences. Just remember to follow his lead and be a good listener. Try the suggestion below, and you will soon learn to recognize the hundreds of opportunities that each day offers to introduce your child to new words

Questions, answers and comments: Excursions to the zoo, aquarium, supermarket, or post office should always be accompanied by lots of questions, answers, and comments.

Doing, seeing, feeling, and touching: Talk to your child about what you're doing, seeing, feeling, and touching while you cook dinner, vacuum the carpet, set the table, or simply pour your child a drink. As you name and describe different objects, you can increase your child's knowledge of their different characteristics; for example, you can talk about colors, shapes, sizes, and textures.

Use specific words: Making only slight changes in the way you speak to your child can make a large difference in his vocabulary development, too. Instead of saying, "I will cut the sandwich for you," try saying, "I will cut the sandwich in half for you." Instead of "We will be there soon," try saying, "We will be there in two hours.

Ask questions: Asking your child questions is a great way to develop his ability to learn, think, and explain, while practicing talking. Try not to always ask questions that require a one-word answer or a yes or no response. If you ask your child, "Did you have fun in school today" the conversational exchange is over and done with when he says yes or no. Instead, try asking, "What did you do in art class today?"

It is important to ask questions at your child's level of understanding. One- and two-year-olds are usually able to answer simple yes or no questions and respond appropriately to "What's this?" Two- and three-year-olds may enjoy answering simple questions: who, what, why and what do your do with a ______? Fill in the blank and keep changing it. Three- and four-year-olds can answer questions that have more than one answer. These questions often begin with "how" and "what if" and require a child to think for himself. For example, "How do you know it is going to rain?" or "What would happen if the ball hit the car?" Most children at this age are also learning to answer how many, how much, and which questions. For example, "How many boxes do you have?" or "Which one is bigger?"

There is not need to buy expensive equipment or sit at the kitchen table with flash cards to build your child's vocabulary. Instead, let the activities in your daily routine become your child's learning tools.

Dorothy P. Dougherty, MA, CCC-SLP is a speech/language pathologist and author of How to Talk to Your Baby, and Teach Me How to Say it Right. For more speech and language information, go to www.1speechproblems.com.

Also see:
Communicating with Children: You Make the Difference
What are your words saying?