How to Stimulate Kids’ Language Development at Home
The development of language and speech skills is an ongoing process among children. Throughout their childhoods, kids learn how to express themselves. Many language skills are actively and passively achieved in preschool and school.
Good communication skills are an asset — not just in a professional sphere but the personal one, too. When we precisely express what we want to say while understanding what others want to tell us, we achieve effective communication. This saves time, prevents misunderstandings and makes us good communicators. This is a desirable skill set to have as it helps us express our opinions, be leaders and even with just small talk. The foundation for this is built through the skills we acquire in our childhoods.
While spending most of their time inside, kids can be encouraged to work on their language development at home. Depending on their age, different activities can teach children valuable language development skills in a playful and fun manner.
Encourage your children to start reading
Getting your children engaged in reading has many benefits. This can be encouraged through reading sessions that get the whole family together. Besides exercising their brain, a kid would also subconsciously improve their vocabulary and gain information on sentence structures. Apart from enhancing their language skills, reading also helps kids develop empathy and comprehend the emotions of characters in books.
Here are some options:
- Read to your children: Even if your child is not able to read yet, reading to them would get them engaged in the habit. Additionally, pointing to pictures and letters would get them comfortable with the concept of books and obtaining knowledge and information from them. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the most famous stories for toddlers.
- Comics: Comics are a very playful and visual way for beginners and young children to get interested in reading. They can be highly compelling and light up a child’s passion for reading.
- Short stories: These are a good option for entry-level readers and are fun to read without any long-term commitments;
- Novel, fantasy or crime books: There are great books for the more experienced readers and older children. Book series like Harry Potter or Eragon provide reading material for months.
- Poems: While poems for kids are fun to read and teach rhymes and the rhythm of language, more sophisticated poems are great to practice the interpretation of abstract writing with older kids. Ask them what they think and feel after they read the poem to engage them in discussion.
If you and your kids run out of reading material, you can consider subscribing to a kids book club. Hey Reader in the Netherlands, for example, can provide new reads every month that are tailored to your child’s age.
Stimulate language development at home with games
A game is a playful and highly engaging tool to exercise your children’s language development at home. Games are casual and fun and they also give you, as a parent or guardian, the opportunity to play an active role in your child’s learning.
Examples for suitable games include the following:
- Board games: Games like Scrabble jog our linguistic skills. Other examples are Quicktionary, Dabble and Quiddler. Maybe you already have some at home.
- Story games: These don’t just encourage kids to speak freely but also to be creative and use their imagination. Examples of games involving storytelling are Story Cubes and Consequences.
- Description games: Games that require paraphrasing involve the use of specific and concise vocabulary and words. Younger children can play I Spy, while older kids can join charades with the whole family.
Use music & film to aid language development
Music and films can be great options to help with your kid’s language development at home. While kids often jump on anything that has to do with a screen or speaker, it is your task as a parent or guardian to make it interactive.
You can make use of the following:
- Learn lyrics and sing or lip-sync: Not only is singing (together) fun, it also helps practice pronunciation. Give it a creative twist and add a dance move or two to get active!
- Educational programs: Educational programs can help acquire information about language, speech and vocabulary. However, they are not interactive. As a parent or guardian, you can be creative and try to make the content interactive.
- Movies and shows: The visual nature of movies and shows gives children the chance to interpret day-to-day use of language. You can also have your kids talk about their favorite show or movie. Motivate them to speak from their memory and practice recollection as well as speech.
Support learning foreign language skills
Many children learn at least one foreign language in school. Good command over foreign languages helps one engage with different people and cultures. While the classroom provides a great environment to learn and practice languages, several activities can be used to incentivize foreign language development at home.
Encourage foreign language learning with the following:
- Learning apps: Language learning apps have lessons for various levels and are even specialized for kids’ learning.
- Foreign TV shows: Watch TV shows in their native language. Turning on the subtitles in your native language can help comprehend them. Through this, a lot of new vocabulary would be subconsciously picked up and the language processed and understood.
- Short stories: As mentioned above, short stories are often easy reads and are also available in foreign languages.
Last, as a parent or guardian, you can be creative yourself. A big part of learning speech and language is practice. Try to encourage your child to talk, write, listen and read as much as possible to actively stimulate their language development at home.
Want to read more about the different skill sets kids can practice at home? Click here.