3 Ways to Create Language Learning Opportunities For Your Little Ones

Bridget Hillsberg
May 9, 2020

Here's a tip from Speech Sisters that you may not have heard! You can set up a language opportunity by putting wanted objects in places where your child can’t retrieve them on their own. If they are motivated to get that item that is on the counter, what will they do or attempt to say? Any gesture or word attempt should be praised in this situation. Maybe your child just points to their milk...well, that is them communicating to you! So you should give them the word, “milk” right then and there. Or maybe they say “milk”. Now you should give them a little more language by adding a few words on, like “drink milk” or “you want milk”?

It’s so easy to just give our little ones what they want and not have them communicate to get their wants and needs met. Try using snack time as a language opportunity! Rather than giving your child ALL of the goldfish or Cheerios, give them a few and WAIT to see HOW they go about asking for more. This is a great time to work on the sign “eat”, as it gives them a lot of opportunities to ask for more to eat while staying motivated.

Have you ever treated yourself to a fabulous dinner with a preset menu? This can be a wonderful opportunity, but when everything is already chosen for us there is a significant decrease in what we need to communicate to our server. Same for our little ones! When we have everything planned out for our children we are missing out on great language opportunities. Providing your child with a choice of two will allow them to respond with a wider range of language. Make them more confident using their language skills and allow for them to see the rewards that follow. It may even help reduce some of those disruptive behaviors. See how much you can include choices in your daily routines this week!

Here’s another tip to create an environment to promote language opportunities: use storage containers that are difficult to open to store your child’s favorite toys and food! This is a great way to target the word “open.” When your child wants the desired item give them the word “open” 3-5 times before, during and after you open the container. Take one item out and give it to them, close the container and REPEAT the interaction again.⠀If you give your toddler everything, without having him ask for it...then, he has no reason to communicate what he needs. Try manipulating situations! Here are a few examples: ⠀

  • Put things OUT of reach!⠀
  • Give him a sippy cup with NO milk in it!⠀
  • Put him in the bath and DON'T turn the water on!⠀

Hmmm...what would happen then? Your child will most likely want to communicate to you because something unexpected has happened. These are strategies that we as parents can and should implement into our daily routines.

To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you!

Bridget Hillsberg
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