Thursday, September 2, 2010

How You Talk with your Child is Important

I went to a speech and language class and learned some interesting facts.
Naturally I failed to write down the source, so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

A study was being conducted among children concerning speech and language.
They found that some kids were significantly more advanced than others.
After surveying the parents, they found that the majority of advanced children had parents that followed these
basic speaking/questioning patterns:

Basically the ways parents represented things to their children were categorized into 3 groups: Yes/No quesitons, Modeling words, and "Wh" questions.

- Yes/No Questions: only requires child to say either a'yes" or "no"

- Modeling words: this involves everyday things, like your child pointing to a sippy cup and you saying "you want juice?"  In a nut shell it involves all commenting and naming.

- "Wh" questions: asks 'who', 'what', 'when' 'where'.  'Why' is usually not included for this particular exercise.

These 3 categories are naturally a part of every parents' speaking pattern.  The study showed however, that the advanced children had parents who used certain tactics more than others.
From that study, percentages were calculated to determine how much of each category should be used in daily life to help increase your child's speech and language abilities:

- Yes/No Questions: 10%
- Modeling Words: 50%
- "Wh" Questions: 40%

Modeling words makes up half because this teaches children how to label, express and understand the world around them.  It also provides them with correct speaking habits.  Not to mention the fact that it is what you are always doing, whether you are talking to your child or not.
The biggest difference in the study was the number of parents who tried to steer clear of Yes/No questions.  These questions severely limit your child's ability to express himself or his vocabulary, as well as the mental capacity it takes to answer "wh" questions.
Not to say that there is never a time for yes/no questions, but the researches recommended trying to turn those into "wh" questions instead.
For example: Instead of saying "It's time for bed.  Would you like me to take you?"  You could say "It's time for bed.  How do you want to get there?"
This helps your child by allowing him more opportunities to speak, forces him to use a bigger vocabulary, and of course express himself more completely than a simple yes or no could.

I though that was a pretty simple way to implement big changes in your children's speech and language abilities.
If you want more specific ways to help improve your interaction, here is another handout I recieved...

How you Talk with your Child is Important
by Diann D.Grimm, M.A., C.C.C., Ed.S.

You can use everyday routines and events to help your child learn language.  Chldren learn words and the rules for using them by listening to others talk.  Then they imitate the language they have heard.  Your child is using you as a "model" for correct language.  Therefore, what you say - and how you say it - is an important influence on your child!

Talk about the here and now
It helps children understand when you talk about objects, people, and events that can be seen, heard, and touched.  So talk about events as they happen.  Say "I put the ball in the box" while doing the action.  Name objects that the child can see.  "A doggie!  Look at the doggie!"  Talk about people around you.  "There's a police officer.  She helps us."

Talk about what is important to your child
Help your child learn to listen by talking about things that interest the child.  If your child is playing with blocks on the floor, it's a good time to say, "Those are big blocks.  This one is red."

Remember that what is interesting to your child may not be interesting to you.  Children are experimenting and learning about the world.  Common objects such as pots and pans, boxes, and rocks can be interesting to them.

Talk out loud about what you are doing
Any time you are with your child is a time for language learning.  By putting your thoughts and actions into words, you are teaching your child language.  Use simple phrases and sentences to describe what you are doing, seeing, and thinking.  For example, while making a cake: "I'm putting in the eggs.  Now I'm mixing the batter.  Going around and around.  It needs more flour.  I'll put in a little more."

At times, talk for your child
Your child is able to think before being able to express those thoughts.  You can help by sometimes putting thoughts into words for your child.  By doing this, you give your child words and sentences to remember for future use.  You may need to guess what your chid is thinking at the moment.  If your child is playing, you might say: "That's a big car.  Make it go.  It goes so fast.  There's a little car.  It can go too."

It helps to talk about what your child is doing or seeing.  It is also important to put your child's feelings into words.  Your child experiences a wide range of emotions daily.  The child may not have words to express these feelings. You can help your child understand emotions by labeling them. For example: "I can see that you are angry.  Tommy broke your tape recorder.  But now we can fix it."

Expand your child's remarks
Child: "Juice."
Parent: "You want juice."
Child: "Doggie run."
Parent: "The doggie runs fast."
This strategy is called "expansion."  In using expansion, the parent above did not change the child's meaning.  The parent merely made the child's remark slightly longer.  As a result, the child heard a good language model.  In addition, the parent did not "correct" the child's remark or require the child to repeat the expanded remark.  The use of expansion is s non-threatening way to model good language for your child.

Add a little more information to your child's remark
In addition to expanding your child's remark, you can build on what your child has already said by adding new information.  Your remark can include your child's original thought plus a new idea.  Use simple sentences to add new information.  For example:
Child: "Truck there."
Parent: "Yes, there's a big red truck."
Child: "Doggie bark."
Parent: "The doggie is barking.  He likes to bark and make noise."

Don't ask your child to repeat what you say
You only need to provide good language models.  Your child will learn without repeating, and without your "correcting" mistakes.  Gradually, your child will learn to say things the way you do - without pressure and at the child's own pace.

Praise your child's language attempts
Keep talking.  And keep learning fun!

Expand - Build upon what your child said.  Add a few words to make a complete sentence or correct expression.  Expansion gives your child a model of correct speech.  It also shows your child that you have understood the child's remark.

Model - To provide an example of good speech or other behavior; to demonstrate a desired verbal response.

Refer to: 5.0 Articles on Home Activites for Speech and Language Development

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