As a parent or carer, you are best placed to help your child develop their speech, language, and communication skills. Here are our top tips to support your child.
Be Face to Face
Get on your child's level
Spend time being face to face with your child at their level. Try kneeling or laying on the floor during play to encourage eye contact.
Use facial expressions
Using facial expressions alongside words like ‘wow’, ‘sad’, or ‘happy’ can help make connections between words and real life experiences.
Make eye contact
Making eye contact is an early communication skill. Try getting on your child’s level and making eye contact while talking to them. You can also encourage eye contact by playing ‘peek-a-boo’!
Smiling is a great way to build your child’s non-verbal communication skills. Smile regularly when making eye contact and return your child’s smiles with enthusiasm!
Model good speech
Children pick-up speech from the people around them. Pronounce your words clearly and use full sentences to help them learn, even if they don’t yet understand everything you say.
Try not to speak too quickly
Give children time to learn the words you say by speaking slowly and clearly.
Avoid baby talk
Try not to use made-up words, like “are wu my widdle baby”, as tempting as it might be! Instead, use real words slowly and in a clear, high pitch.
Engage from birth
Start talking, making eye contact and using facial expressions as soon as your child is born. Children are learning about speech and communication from day one!
Show you are interested
Make time to respond to your child with enthusiasm. Showing interest helps them to learn about the back and forth of communication.
Actively look & listen
Actively listen and respond to your child. Make eye contact when they are making noises or speaking to you. This helps to build their understanding of communication and grows their confidence.
Technology can be a great tool, but too much can distract children from learning speech, language and communication skills. Try setting ‘screen time’ limits, and promote language learning through fun activities.
Put your phone down
Adults can get distracted by technology too! Your child needs lots of time with you and without distraction to build their communication skills.
Babble sounds are a stepping stone to language. Try translating your child’s sounds to show them that you are paying attention. For example, if your child looks at a car through the window and babbles, try saying ‘”oh look, there’s a car” while pointing yourself.
Introduce new words
Introduce new words by adding new words on to familiar things your child says. For example, if your child says “a car”, you could say “yes that’s right, it is a car. It is a BIG, BLUE, car!”
Talk at your child's language level
Read age-appropriate books with your child, and in everyday speech, try replying to your child using sentences that are a few words longer. For example, if they say, “sock off”, respond with “yes, we’re taking your sock off”
Repetition is key to making language stick. Try repeating songs you like singing together, or ask older children to repeat sentences back to you to check their understanding.
Make time to talk
Sometimes children can be overloaded with questions. Too many questions can inhibit language and communication. Try to comment rather than asking lots of questions and avoid closed ‘yes/no’ questions.
Give children time to think & respond
Give children extra time to process what you have said and to think of an answer. Listen well and wait
Try not to interrupt
Children need extra time to process the things they have heard and to form their own words. Try not to interrupt their speech or thinking where possible.
Enjoy talking together
You can make talking together fun and enjoyable. Try playing games using words, and make learning new words enjoyable. Take a look at our activities for inspiration.