Thursday, May 10, 2012

Language and a fun activity for all ages!

Repetition!  Repetition! Repetition! 
Okay- I think I made my point:) Sometimes,  children need to be exposed to new words multiple times in order to learn them. Therefore, I believe repetition is a highly important and easy to use tool that we as parents can utilize to strengthen our children's receptive and expressive language skills.   WAIT!  Let's back up, what exactly is receptive and expressive language?  In very basic terms,  expressive language is the words spoken while receptive language is the understanding and comprehension of words spoken. What does repetition look like practically when conversing with your child?  I'm glad you asked! :):)

Newborn- Pretoddler
Babies can hear outside noise in the womb at 30 weeks!  Isn't that incredible!

I am amazed by God's creation and that He loves us enough to make us each special!

Psalm 139:14 states:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Lily is now a toddler and I find that repetition is more important now than ever!

1.  ALL AGES: When Lily and I see a picture of a new object/person/animal in a book, I will label the object and then continue to repeat what the object is in sentence form.  For example, "Lily look its a "hippo."  "Oh I like the "hippo." Third, I will describe it - "the hippo is big."  I overemphasize the new word being targeted.  Often times, by the third time I am referencing the object, Lily will repeat the word.  Then, I make it a point to show her the object in different books, or pictures that we see in our daily routine.  I am a huge believer in encouragement!!  The bible says in

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

Therefore, when Lily does point to the targeted object and identify the object, I am clapping and saying great job!!! Then, I continue to re-emphasize the word and say you said "hippo" Wonderful job! Animals are so much fun and provide great avenues for language learning!

FUN ACTIVITY:  Try going on an animal safari with your little one!  They will absolutely love it!
You can print off different pictures of animals found in the jungle and hang them in different places in your house.  Make pretend binoculars out of a paper towel roll cut in half and look for the animals!!  There are so many language opportunities for this activity that I am just brimming over with excitement!  Once, you find an animal and identify it, you can talk about how it feels, what it sounds like, where it lives, what it eats, its size, color, and more!! Then, have fun and pretend to be the animal, the more animated the better!!!
Please please please, if you try this activity, please comment below and send me a picture if you can!! I would love to hear any feedback!

 Please NOTE: (if your baby/child is non- verbal, you can use this same technique but without the expectation that they will repeat the word after you)

Lily loved this activity! We used plastic animals instead of paper 
but both work great!
She loved giving the animals a bath in the river (a plate with water)!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Increasing your child's language skills

Teaching my precious toddler new language skills just excites me and I would love to share some of my ideas with you! So, lets dig in!  I have put together five simple and useful ways to begin really encouraging growth in your toddlers language repertoire. Lets start with #1 for today! :)

1.  Narrate everything and I mean absolutely everything.  I know this will feels so silly at first but it is absolutely paramount in increasing your child's receptive language skills.  You can start this while they are tiny newborns but please don't feel discouraged if you did not!  For new moms, I would encourage you to start this as soon as you take them home from the hospital.  But how does that look practically?  Here are some things that I did with my Lily when she was fist born.  
A. I would walk to the different pictures in our house and tell stories about her sweet family.  I would include information about each relative and describe where the picture was taken and the fun memories behind it!  
B.  I also would walk around and take her on "imaginary" trips!  I know this one is funny to imagine but I had so much fun with it!  I would say things like and now Lily we are going to take a trip to Alaska. And I would narrate the whole sequence of events for her.  We would pick up our pace as I told her we were taking off in the airplane, and would describe the beautiful sights we saw.  I would tell her "oh look at the moose eating grass and the grizzly bear uh-oh lets hurry up!  Since sweet Lily could not obviously not dialogue with me, it was a fun way that I could help garner her language skills!  
C.  I would explain everything I was doing!  I would explain even the simplest task like - "lets open the big black door," the more descriptive the better!  I love to pile on the adjectives!

1.  I still narrate everything with Lily and she has increased her vocabulary by leaps and bounds! 
For example, when we go on walks I describe everything we see! Yesterday we compared "hard vs. soft"  This is how it looked: she picked up a few rocks that she was very excited about at the playground.  So, I said "oh you found rocks!  Wow!"  The more inflective your voice is the better! I asked her how many rocks do you have?  (Lily is able to count up to ten- only to 3 when counting actual objects) so I would not have asked her this question and waited for a response except that I knew she could complete the task. If she was not counting yet, I would have said: oh you found 2 rocks!  I like your 2 rocks.  Lets count them together!) Then, I said oh your rock is hard.  Let's feel it together!  And then I compared it with her stuffed bear and said "bear feels soft and gently put her bear to her face. But the rock is hard and I let her feel the rock again.  We talked about this concept a few times and I repeated the words hard and soft several times because repetition is essential and I will cover that next! I also described the plane in the air, the clouds outside, the children riding their bikes, the bunnies hopping by, the squirrels and what they liked to eat and more.  Do you see how this just becomes a lifestyle? I have truly seen the fruits of this recently or I would not be sharing this with you!  It reminds me of one of my very favorite bible verses: Galations 6:9
"But do not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up."