I was standing in line at an area cupcake store and heard this 4 year old behind me with some pretty vast language skills. Well, not so amazing but he was vastly verbal.
His conversation went like this, "mom, I want the white chocolate cupcake, no I mean, I want the dark chocolate one, what is that cupcake, what flavor is that one, mom what is that jar with money in it, can I have some, what is that for, what can we do when we get home, I want to get Daddy something, wow, banana, is that good, I can't decide, that is cool!..." Yes, this conversation all occurred in a total of 1 minute!
Isn't language development amazing? When you really think about it, it really is so fascinating how babies are born into this world with no language skills and then in a matter of a year or two, they are fluent in their native tongue, and then some! They are like sponges and soak everything up. What amazes me more are the babies that learn over 3-4 languages in their home. I wish I could speak Spanish, French, German, in addition to English!
Since my child is now 9 months old, I've been trying to increase her language development, with some tips I remembered studying in undergrad.
And how do you increase a baby's language?
Well, it involves some of the same skills I use as a Play Therapist. A technique called 'tracking.' When therapists track children in a play therapy session, we basically comment on everything we see them doing. We do it in moderation of course so the child doesn't get annoyed. The point of doing it is to bring awareness to a child's actions and to also let them know we are giving them our 100% attention.
So with babies learning language, we use tracking so they can learn more words. Sounds easy enough, but so many times it's easy to forget. Our child is playing on the floor next to us, or we are changing their diapers and we are silent, not saying a word as we just watch them play or go about our day.
I try as much as I can to remember to' track' everything I and my baby does, so that she grasps language and words faster. The more she hears us talking, the more she is going to pick up the language. Of course, I try not to talk in cute little baby talk too often so she doesn't think that's the way we really talk, such as, "we are going to eat cawits today, you love eating your orange cawits!" Or, "You uv puttin your wittle feetsies in your mouth!"
So what does tracking look like? Here are some examples:
When getting dressed: "now we are going to get dressed. First we need to put your left hand through this sleeve...now your right hand..pull it through..now let's stand up and put your pants on..one leg at a time..you are going to wear red pants today..left leg, now right leg...now let's sit down and put on our socks..the yellow and red socks....etc." you get the idea.
When eating: "It's time for lunch..I am going to get your sweet potatoes in your bowl and heat them up...okay, they are ready now, let me get your spoon and your bib...let's put on your bib, over your head..now let's sit down and eat..I am going to scoop up your potatoes with your spoon..getting a little bit..now here they come, open your mouth and I will feed you some yummy potatoes..yum, you are licking them off the spoon and using your tongue..etc..
I know, seems a little bit too much, and that it could get old VERY fast, but it really does help them learn more words faster and develop language skills. You don't have to do it all of the time, but here and there is good.
I know what some of you with older kids are thinking, as much as we are teaching our child to speak, pretty soon she will be so verbal, we will wish she was back at 6 months of age and not talking yet like in the example above.
But helping your child become more verbal is also a good example we set as parents. We can model appropriate social skills when speaking and how to interact, carry a conversation, ask a question, etc.
I can't wait to see how my little angel's language progresses!