Tips for Parents

Talk to your child during mealtime, bath time, playtime, shopping, cleaning, when he/she is getting dressed in the morning, and on the way to and from school or daycare. These are great times to talk about what’s happening in your child’s natural environment and expose him/her to new vocabulary and concepts. Talking with your child in these situations also provides a model of how to use language for communication and social interaction.

Actively listen to your child by making eye contact, using encouraging body language, gestures and facial expressions, acknowledging feelings and repeating back to your child in your own words what you hear your child saying.

Set a good example for your child by modeling correct speech. It’s not necessary to ask your child to repeat exactly what you say.

Reward and praise your child’s communication attempts. It’s not necessary to ALWAYS correct your child’s grammar or pronunciation. Try not to expect too much or too little of your child. Keep talking fun and enjoyable and encourage your child to participate in conversations.

Speak slowly and clearly. Repeat for your child if necessary. Keep your sentences and directions short and simple.

Give your child enough time to respond. Your child may take a long time to organize thoughts and feelings and put them into words. Avoid the tendency to interrupt your child.

Emphasize key words or new words that you want your child to learn.

Repeat main ideas frequently, in as many different ways as possible.

Take time to answer your children’s questions.

Model and encourage expressions and phrases that are polite. Social graces such as “please” and “thank you” help you child gain their wants and needs in the classroom and in life.

Help your child understand the difference between events that could really take place and make-believe/fantasy events. This is especially important when watching television programs and movies and when reading and discussing books. Take time to share your ideas, ask for opinions, listen to thoughts and feelings and ask questions. Explain any events or ideas that may be confusing or unclear to your child.

Ideas and activities that help build communication skills:

· Read to your child. Recite nursery rhymes and poems and sing songs with your child.

· When reading to your child, change your voice for different characters. Let your voice get soft and loud and change pitch depending on the character and what’s being said. Put life into your reading.

· Play sorting games with your child. Ask him or her to help you sort the laundry by color and by shape (shirts, pants, socks) and to sort food by shape (cans, boxes, sacks, etc.).

· Read a story to your child and ask him or her to retell the story.

· Have your child tell you about a favorite TV or cartoon character. This type of dialogue stimulates the use of a rich vocabulary and lets you know the types of qualities to which your child relates.

· Encourage your child to respond to literature or television by acting out a favorite part or scene with you. Take turn pretending to be one of the story, television, or movie characters until the other person correctly guesses the identity.