Being present is tough. Demands of emails, text messaging, who’s running for president, and the latest news story require you to keep up. But then you have the responsibility of these little people who are growing, developing, and will be off to college before you know it. On top of this, you see headlines for TV not great for kids, iPads not great for kids, and all other things to just add on the parental pressure. And the old-new advice: READ READ READ to your children.
So this blog is for people like me. If you have any of the following, read on:
• Work demands requiring a response.
• Deadlines to meet
• Scheduling Doctors and Dentist appointments
• Planning and Packing for Vacation while juggling the current schedule
• Checking in on aging parents and family members
• Being there for a friend going through a tough time
• Toddler and Kids running around.
• Dogs requiring attention
• Healthy meal shopping and recipes
• Slightly sleep deprived
• Still in search of a great pillow
• Obsessed with checking your blood pressure (that may be just me).
• Taking conference calls in your car in a grocery store parking lot while your toddler naps
There is a universal theme regardless of class, color, or occupation; we want all of our children and our children’s play partners. We want them healthy, safe, and smart. We want them all to achieve their level of greatness and the beginning block includes language development.
Here are some ways to increase language in your daily life beyond reading the one book everyday.
1. BECOME THE NARRATOR: Talk about everything that you are doing. Talk about what they are doing. Talk about things you see that may be interesting.
2. SING children’s song and nursery rhymes in the car and in the kitchen while you cook. Create your own jazzy versions and melodies.
3. TALK ABOUT FOOD AND COOKING. The verbs, the utensils, the ingredients, the complexity of basting, broiling, chopping, sauteing.
4. USE REAL WORDS and specific language. “That’s a transporter truck. Look at the bull dozer.
5. USE THE SYNONYMS OF COMMON WORDS so that we build a repertoire of word variety. “We have to walk to the counter and purchase our groceries”
6. ADD ADJECTIVES. “Child say’s truck”. Add in color words, size words.
7. TALK ABOUT AND VALIDATE FEELINGS when the child is expressing them. Give emotions words. “You feel angry because you didn’t want to share. I know it’s tough. But it’s nice to do sometimes and makes everyone comfortable.”
8. RESPOND TO BABBLE as if it were real sentences and words. This is critical…instead of giggling and saying “what”. Pretend they have said something incredibly valid and respond with real words.
9. REPHRASE AND GIVE YOUR CHILD THE LANGUAGE HE SHOULD USE. This is especially important for hitting and tantrums and asking questions. In the morning, he says “Daddy”. I added “Where is Daddy?” and now he adds “where” when he is looking for anything.
With this, you are creating that language rich encounter. This will over time become your new habit. Increased encounters doused with reading the daily book will create the language rich environment we SLPs love to talk about. More importantly, you will evoke a curiosity for words and the reciprocity of your little person pointing and sometimes asking “what is that?”
Parenting is masterful work.
Let’s master it together!
Landria Green, MA., CCC-SLP