The most important thing you can do to support your child’s communication skills is to talk and play with them. Barnsley have adopted the NSPCC bank of resources and tips: ‘Look, Say, Sing, Play’ which will help you include lots of fun ways to communicate with your child in your daily routine. Please see their website for further information.
Our family centre outreach workers run a variety of groups to support your child’s development. There has been a very successful pilot in the Dearne called Little Talkers, this programme shares simple ways to talk and play with your child and we hope to be extending the programme out across the borough. This programme follows activities from the ‘I Can’ website, a charity aimed at helping children communicate.
Sharing books together is another great way to support a child’s language development. Your local library offers access to a fantastic range of free books for under-fives and offers a range of activities for children. View further information on their website.
Try hiding a noisy object in the room, such as a phone playing music or a noisy toy. Can your child find it? This is a great way to develop listening skills.
At meal or drink times, don’t automatically give your child everything they need. Wait for them to ask for what they want. You can also pretend to make a mistake, by giving them the wrong thing, such as a spoon instead of a cup, so they can tell you it’s wrong!
Play pretend shopping by using everyday items from your kitchen cupboards, that your child will recognise, such as an apple, a packet of cereal, a small tin of beans and a carrot (four to five items is enough to start with). Put them on a low table, which has now become ‘the shop’. Give your child a fabric bag, ask them to go to the shop and “buy me a carrot”. Begin by only asking for one item and if this goes well, you can then ask for two or maybe three items next time!
When you are outside, you can play ‘run and touch’. For example, say “run and touch the tree” or “run and touch the swing”. Start with naming one thing and if this goes well, you can add another place, so “run and touch the tree and then the swing”.
You can also give your child a role in family routines, even if it’s only a small one, such as helping to wash fruit or vegetables, get cutlery out at mealtimes, take things to the kitchen after meals or put their shoes away. If they need help to complete their tasks, always encourage them to ask, rather than stepping in too soon.
A great way to support your child’s speech and language is to find activities and exciting places to visit with your child, which you can talk about together.
View an extensive list on things to do and see in Barnsley from our Families Information Service page.
Please also see lots of activities from your local family centre, by visiting the Facebook page.