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Language Development at Home

6-12 Months
One Year
One to Two Years
Two to Three Years
Three to Four Years
Four to Five Years

0-6 Months

  1. Three babiesTalk to baby while bathing, feeding, playing with, dressing, or changing. This will inspire baby to make more sounds.
  2. Give baby safe and interesting objects to feel and look at in his crib.
  3. When possible, use gestures when you talk; the combination of the two will lead to quick understanding.
  4. Use variety in your voice when talking to the baby. Be dramatic and animated. Your expression will make it easier to understand meaning.

6-12 Months

  1. An exchange of babbling sounds between you and your child will encourage him to make more sounds and listen more closely to what he is saying.
  2. Place baby in front of a mirror; this will produce more babbling because of the added visual stimulation.
  3. He will begin duplicating inflections as well as sounds. When the babbling sounds as if he is making a statement, asking questions, or giving commands, respond to him as though he is saying something important. By imitating his nonsense talk, you are encouraging him to try new ways of talking.
  4. If you want him to understand you, use single words or short phrases.
  5. Give the baby a cloth book. Look at colorful books and magazines with him. Point to simple objects and name them. Imitate his voice when he responds to pictures. Let the baby decide which pages to look at; do not expect him to repeat words; and do not force him to sit for an extended time.
  6. Give the baby a variety of toys in different shapes, colors, and sizes. This will teach him likeness and differences and give you something to talk about.
  7. Let him discover the physical world as well as the world of sounds by allowing him to explore his home.

One Year

  1. When you are teaching your child a new word that begins with an easy sound (dog, baby, milk), repeat it over and allow time for your child to respond. Remember, it helps to combine words with gestures.
    No, no (shake finger); Go (point)
  2. Do not respond to the child’s gestures if they are not accompanied by words. Encourage some attempt on his part to talk. Help him realize that spoken words are an effective shortcut in communication.
  3. Baby fed with spoonDo not expect or demand that your child repeat every word that you think he should know. Say words that will be useful to him, for example:
    • Body parts: foot, hand, nose
    • Eating utensils: cup, spoon, fork, knife
    • Clothing: shoes, pants, socks, dress
    • Toys: ball, doll
    • Food: cookie, milk, water
    • Family members’ names
  4. It is normal for a one year old to mispronounce words. Do not try to correct your child’s speech. Say words slowly and carefully to give a good model.
  5. If his first words are ignored, he has little encouragement to try new words. Reward your child with smiles, words of praise, repeating what he says, reply to what he is saying, giving him what he asks for (within reason).

One to Two Years

  1. Self talk when your child is with you talk out loud about what you are doing, feeling, hearing, or seeing at that moment.
  2. Parallel talk describes what your child is doing, seeing, hearing, or feeling. Feed into his brain the words that he will later need to express his own actions and feelings.
  3. Keep providing your child with listening activities.
    Help him become aware of the sounds of different things.
    Arrange regular play periods with other children
    Combine words and actions in situations like swinging your child
    Make a game utilizing your child’s ability to follow directions
  4. Help your child begin to combine words by putting words together in a meaningful way. “Drink milk”; “Want milk”; “Milk gone.”
  5. Always provide a short word rather than a longer alternative.
  6. Provide experiences that stimulate speech and language development.
    Read to him; Go to the circus; Go to the zoo;
    Go for a walk; Go to grandma’s house; Go to the supermarket.
    When you are taking him into a new situation:

    • Talk to him about it before you go
    • Talk to him about it while you are there
    • Discuss it again after your return (Use parallel-talk and self-talk)

Two to Three Years

  1. Dad and sonActivities – water colors, finger paints, paste, crayons.
  2. Games – lacing shoe, mail box, stringing beads, tricycle, and other larger toys.
  3. Listening activities – Have child pass on information – “Tell dad it is time to eat”; “I spy.”
  4. Encourage word play games, such as rhyming and changing word endings – pay, hay, say, day, etc.
  5. Read to the child. A good book has a picture story that makes sense without the printed story, and it has a printed story that is interesting and does not need the picture story.
  6. Reward the child’s speech and language.
  7. Encourage child to do his own correcting. You should occasionally make errors and casually correct them in front of your child. This lets him know that it is okay to make mistakes.
  8. Play games that teach him that everything has a name. Have your child point to objects that you name, then have him name them when you point.

Three to Four Years

  1. The stories you read your child can be a little longer and more complex.
  2. Continue to help your child learn the correct grammar by using words that he said incorrectly and repeating them in your own speech with the error corrected.
  3. Picture Lotto games give your child a chance to practice short sentences and will help him learn to use “I” instead of “me” at the beginning of a sentence by saying things like “I have the clown.”
  4. Teach your child the relationship between words, objects, and ideas. Talk about how they are alike and how they are different.
    “This brush is bigger than that one.”
    “Here are two pencils; the yellow one is skinny and the green one is fat.”
  5. Children need playmates their own age.
  6. There are several specific things that can be done during almost any activity or at any time of the day that will help a child of this age build speech and language skills. Take turns naming things. If the child wants to help you with household chores, use self-talk or parallel-talk. Provide a good model for him to copy.
  7. Activities could include pasting, coloring, drawing, and dress up.

Four to Five Years

  1. Children cutting with scissors and drawingActivities include cutting with scissors, stencils, and tracing books, clay molding, design reproduction, collecting small objects, collecting pictures from magazines and group items to teach classification.
  2. Let your child help before going to the store or on a trip by asking:
    “What should we buy at the store?’
    “What should we take on our trip?”
    “What should we put on the Christmas Tree?”
  3. Teach your child to use the telephone.
  4. Continue to read to him, but do not teach him how to read.
  5. Do not expect your child to say every sound. He will probably experience difficulty with some of the harder sounds and blends.