Language development in children is amazing, and it is a development that many parents really look forward to. The secret to helping children learn language is very simple: talk together lots and listen lots:
- Talking with babies from birth builds language and communication skills.
- You can talk with your child anywhere, anytime, about anything!
- Help your child learn about conversation by pausing and giving your child time to respond.
- Reading, singing songs and using rhyme are good for children’s language.
Tips for sharing language at home
Talk about everyday things together, and get your child talking to you. Showing interest in and asking questions about what children are doing encourages them to try new words. Your little one learns best from you - make sure they can see your face when you’re talking. Talk about things that have a regular sequence to them, for example getting dressed, making toast or getting ready for bed.
Play Simon says
Everyone takes a turn being Simon and gets to decide on an action. Simon says, everyone skipping, jumping or hopping. This active game lets children link words to action.
Looking at photos with your little one is a great way to snuggle up and share stories about your child’s world. You’ll be amazed at how many conversations can come out of the everyday moments you capture with your phone.
Take turns when talking with your little one - wait for them to respond even if they can’t talk yet. Chit-chat is a valuable experience for both of you. A simple conversation every day can help them develop language and communication skills. With older children, ask questions that can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Remember to give plenty of time to respond. Children need time to process and deliver an answer.
Go on a trip to the shops
A simple trip to the local supermarket can be a wonderful opportunity for you to talk with your child and introduce some new words while you shop.
Sing a nursery rhyme
Your child is taking in all the sounds and is making sense of them bit by bit. They’re absorbing all of this information from lots of cues, including the sounds you make, your expressions and facial movements, and the actions that go with it.
Did you know that slowing right down and repeating the things you say can be just as important as how often you do it? It’s easier and quicker for little ones to learn when you slow right down and repeat again. Little steps like these are all important in the pathway to learning language.
Regular reading with your child creates a special time for bonding. It also stimulates your child’s imagination and helps them learn about the world around them.
Repeating stories over and over is another fantastic way to get young children involved. The more familiar your child is with the story, the louder they get and the more likely they are to join in, creating lots of opportunities for learning.
It’s a good time to remember that conversations with your child work towards building lasting connections in their brain. Your child is never too young to benefit from hearing you talk.
Reserve these physical items and collect from your local library:
- What's your baby thinking?: understanding and delighting in your very little person by Neil Alcorn
- Now say this: the right words to solve every parenting dilemma: the 3-step approach to effective communication by Heather Turgeon, MFT, and Julie Wright, MFT
- The parenting project: build extraordinary relationships with your kids through daily conversation by Amy Alamar, Ed.D., and Kristine Schlichting, Ph.D
- Talking baby: helping your child discover language by Margaret Maclagen & Anne Buckley
- My toddler talks: strategies and activities to promote your child's language development by Kimberly Scanlon
- How language comes to children: from birth to two years by Benedicte de Boysson-Bardies
- Small talk: simple ways to boost your child's speech and language development from birth by Nicola Lathey and Tracey Blake
Wordless picture books
Tell a story just using the pictures in a book - you don’t need to read the words.
- Another by Christian Robinson
- Pool by JiHyeon Lee
- Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
- The red wheelbarrow by Briony Stewart
- Window by Jeannie Baker
Picture books with the best words
Expose your little one to lots of rich language:
- The dot by Peter H. Reynolds
- Oh the places you’ll go by Dr. Seuss
- The book with no pictures by B.J Novak
- Nop by Caroline Magerl
- Meerkat splash by Aura Parker
Interactive Picture Books
Give your child opportunities to be involved in book sharing – turn the pages, make noises, lift flaps, predict what is going to happen.
- Heads and tails by John Canty
- Press here by Herve Tullet
- Tap the magic tree by Christie Matheson
- I say OOH you say AAH by John Kane
- From head to toe by Eric Carle
Libraries love these eBooks:
- How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk by Adele Faber
- ParentSpeak: What's wrong with how we talk to our children—and what to say instead by Jennifer Lehr
Borrow up to 30 eBooks on your device. To get started download the ePlatform by Wheelers, RBDigital and Libby apps. Select Sunshine Coast Libraries and enter your member number and password. Need help setting up your device for eBooks? Watch this video tutorial.
- How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 by Joanna Faber
- Calm Parents, Happy Kids by Laura Markham
To get started, download the BorrowBox, Libby, and RBDigital apps, select Sunshine Coast Libraries and enter your member number and password. Need help setting up your device for eAudiobooks? Watch this video tutorial.
- Babytalk: Australian parenting podcast
- Sh*ts and Giggles: A Podcast for dads
- BabyLab: Fun and informative deep dive into the unknown science behind how babies learn to communicate
- Your parenting mojo: Research-based ideas to help kids thrive
On the web
- Download the SPEAK app for lots of fun, free activities, ideas and information for parents and carers to support and nurture language development in children from 0 to 6 years of age.
- Speech Pathology Australia provide information for parents and carers about communication milestones in children and great booklists from the Annual Speech Pathology Book Awards.
- Little moments matter. Make the most of your child’s first five years with First 5 Forever.
- Head over to the Raising children network for a wealth of great information including this great video on telling stories with children.
- Talking Together; a place where parents can find reliable information on early speech and language development from birth to five years.
- Visit Kids on the Coast for great articles and features.
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