Reading and language development have one of the biggest roles in children’s future academic, social and career success. Most kids conquer listening, speaking, reading and writing by the time they reach grade three and they start to use them as learning tools. Kids who have these skills well-developed in third grade tend to grow up into successful students.
However, more and more teachers and parents notice young kids with poorly developed language skills entering school with smaller vocabularies than their predecessors. Due to that fact, they might struggle with reading, speaking and other tasks necessary for good academic performance. While there are many factors that can result in poor language use, many times those children are not engaged in meaningful conversation and proper language work at home. Here’s how you can improve your kids’ language development and give them an edge in life:
Create meaningful interaction
Kids are like little sponges. They hear all sorts of different sounds around them every day—traffic, music, television, electronics and conversations. Our job as parents is to be there to engage children in meaningful conversation that will allow them to speak and get feedback and vice versa. Good thing is that you can talk to young kids about a wide variety of easy and engaging topics: clothing they wear, foods they like, cartoons they watch, toys they play with and any other activity they do. Make sure to keep your conversation topics light and age-appropriate because they will make your conversation more meaningful and allow kids to maintain focus and interest for longer. And be interactive—ask questions, comment on what they have to say, narrate what you do and offer a steady stream of feedback that will expose your kid to a lot of different parts of the language.
Read every day
Reading is a must for language development. However, don’t just go over the words—make sure to look at pictures, discuss what you see and ask hypothetical questions making sure to name everything in the book. Many kids don’t have a chance to experience things in real life, so seeing a picture and reading about those things is very useful for vocabulary building. It can also allow them to notice rhythm changes and language structures while learning new words. And reading is a great way to bond with your kid in a relaxing atmosphere which will motivate them to create healthy habits that will be useful throughout their lifetime.
Enroll them in classes
If you want to boost your kid’s language skills in a monitored environment, you can enroll them in different classes. Your kid might benefit from fun phonics programs that will teach them letters, names, sounds, a wide variety of blends, diagraphs and complex word groups. These classes help kids identify, read and spell words and improve pronunciation. Aside from ensuring kids speak and read clearly, these classes also work on children’s social development by exposing them to other kids and teaching them to communicate with someone their age.
Play rhyming games
It’s very important to work on your kids phonological and phonemic skills as part of their language development. And don’t worry, these words might sound scary, but they are very simple—they refer to the understanding of the language sounds, and teaching them is simple and fun. Rhyming is one aspect of phonological awareness and it can be exercised easily. For instance, you can practice it with your kids while you cook, do chores or sit in the waiting room. There are even rhyming prompt cards you can download and print out.
Give them time
Positive reinforcement is one of the most important parts of motivating your kids to use and develop language skills, yet it can often be neglected. Make sure to encourage your child to speak—this is the best way to develop good skills. While kids need a lot of opportunities to speak, don’t scold them when they try to use language in inappropriate times. React in a positive way and give them time to process encouragement. The best time to start conversations is at home in the evening when they can share news and listen to other family member’s news. And be understanding if your kid is not ready or willing to share and engage—there’s always time.
These language development and learning tips and tricks will create plenty of positive experiences that will build your kid’s confidence and encourage them to use language more and reach their full potential.