1. When you buy a buggy, invest in one that lets your baby face you. For his first year, you’re his best source of entertainment, and being face-to-face means he’s able to watch you when you’re talking to him.
2. Allow opportunities for your child to communicate by using every opportunity to ask questions with options rather than those requiring a nod or shake of the head!
Offer choices throughout the day, for example, “Do you want juice or milk?”
3. Listen and enjoy sounds around you. Name sounds for your child (e.g. phone ringing, wind blowing, water running, police sirens)
Have fun making sounds together
Copy sounds, such as animal sounds (“moo”, “miaow”, “quack,” “woof” & “baa”).
4. Read to your child from an early age and look through picture books together. Use lots of repetition. Give your theatrical skills a full airing – make silly sound effects and create funny voices for the characters. When your child sees that language and words are fun, they’re more likely to join in themselves and try out new words.
5. If your child attempts a word, but gets it wrong or mispronounces it, adopt a good model approach: say the word back to them correctly, slowly and clearly. They will soon get the idea!
6. Make sure if you ask your baby a question, you leave time for him to respond. He might not speak, but those little babbles, giggles and noises are your baby’s way of joining in the conversation!
7. Sing songs and rhymes with your child, especially those with fun noises and actions. Encouraging them to join in will develop vocabulary and memory.
8. Use simple games to introduce numbers, colours and letter sounds. As you tidy up, suggest they find the red toys while you put away the yellow toys. Challenge your toddler to count blocks when you build towers, or steps as you go upstairs. Playing “I Spy” is a great way of introducing phonics to young children.
9. Imaginative play is a great way for older toddlers to practice their conversation skills – most three year olds love bossing their toys around! This doesn’t have to be expensive: most children will be just as happy with peg dolls and a cardboard box ‘house’.
10. Encourage your child to get involved in household chores. As you sort the laundry, talk about colours and shapes. In the kitchen, let children help with weighing ingredients, or mixing foods together.