How Parents Can Encourage Language Skills

About 10% of children have speech and language difficulties. Help your child develop these skills with these five tips.

A mom works on language skills by reading with her child.

Have a give and take. Whether it’s bath time, dinner time, or drive time, respond to your baby’s babbling or engage your preschooler in a discussion about something that interests him. Ask open-ended questions and elicit his opinions.

Read together. Ask questions about the story and illustrations: “What’s happening in this picture?” “Why did the character do that?” “What do you think will happen next?”

Keep up a running commentary. Describe what you and your child are doing and why, whether it’s feeding the dog or putting away toys. This technique helps build vocabulary and comprehension.

Keep corrections subtle. When your child makes an error in speech, gently rephrase what he was trying to say. If he says “I runned to the car,” you can respond with: “Oh, you ran to the car?” If a child is prone to short sentences, elaborate on what she says to encourage longer statements.

Be patient. Some children need extra time to process a question, think of an answer, and get it out. Giving your child as much time as she needs shows that you’re interested and encourages communication.


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