Editor’s Note: Written for parents and guardians, this is a nice post worth sharing
[Source: Child Development Club]
This is not the post I thought I was going to write. I set out to write about sneaky tricks to encourage talking (temptation tasks, turn taking, adding language: it was going to be a masterpiece), but as the introduction section became two, and then three, and then four, and then five paragraphs long, I realized that perhaps I was getting ahead of myself. Before you start encouraging talking, you have to learn to listen. This is how.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
Many of us have a secret, perhaps deeply buried agenda when interacting with a child. Though this may sound sinister, I suspect that you will recognize yourself in this simple example. You sit on the floor to play with your child (first of all, good job on that). You see the shape sorter and think “what a great opportunity to teach Maddy about shapes” (again, good job!). However Maddy’s eyes go to the ball across the room and she begins to reach for it. You show her a square, “Look Maddy, it’s a square, where does the square go?”
SCREEEEEEEECH!! Uh oh. The well intentioned language train has been derailed. At this point Maddy has to split her attention between the shapes (which she frankly could take or leave at this point) and the ball (which she currently thinks is awesome). She has to process the shape language that you are providing while taking in information about the ball, which she likes, and the square that you have (very lovingly) shoved in her face. System overload!! Language not learned. Instead, see her eye gaze go to the ball and follow her lead. “Look, a ball!” Ah ha, Maddy thinks, this awesome thing must be a ball! Language learned. Let your child use the full power of his or her developing mental capacity on objects that are of high interest in the moment. And if you really can’t let go of the shape thing, I suppose that you can mention that the ball is round.