We are spending a lot more time with our children these days and are no doubt communicating with them constantly throughout the day. In turn, they are learning how to express themselves. Supporting speech and language development is the primary way that a young child develops strong foundational skills and concepts in all learning domains.
To maximize your child’s speech and language skills, parents should use strategies called “self-talk” and “parallel talk”. These communication strategies can easily be replicated at home and ensure that your child continues to hit those all-important developmental milestones.
Below, we will guide you through easy activities you can try at home with your kids as part of their language development.
Why Self Talk and Parallel Talk is Important As Part of Language Development?
Your child is a sponge – they absorb everything that you say. That’s why parents should use various techniques when talking to their children.
While self-talk and parallel talks might make you feel a little awkward at first, they are key for language development and allow your child to associate meaningful language with an action, object, or emotion. Over time, children learn to mimic these sounds when expressing themselves.
What is Self-Talk?
Self-talk is when an adult describes what she or he is thinking and doing in real-time without looking for a child to respond. The goal is to use child-friendly language to describe exactly what you are doing around the house. Some examples are:
- “I am mixing the butter and sugar to make our cookies. I like to smell it. Do you want to smell the batter?”
- “We need to clean up the toys. Let’s put the red car on the shelf and the green doll in the basket.”
- “Let’s see what the grocery list says. It says we need blueberries, I wonder where the blueberries are in the store. The list says we also need ice cream. Here is the ice cream, see how cold it is etc.”
Incorporating self-talk into the conversations that you have with your child on a daily basis is a great way to encourage healthy language development from a young age.
What is Parallel Talk?
Parallel talk, on the other hand, is another technique that can be used to support receptive and expressive language by describing what the child is doing, seeing, or thinking. Some examples are:
- “I see that you are putting the yellow block on top. Here goes the green one next to it. The tower is getting taller!”
- “You seem to be struggling with the train track. Let’s see if we can figure out how to connect the train track pieces.”
Parallel talk may make you feel like a sports broadcaster narrating a play-by-play account of what your child is doing but, it’s making words more meaningful for your child. The key is to focus on what’s happening in the present – children learn best from real-time experiences.
Self Talk for Kids: Easy Tips When Trying At Home
Children learn how to speak by observing and analyzing those around them – from grandparents and siblings to child care providers. But it is their parents that spend the most quality time with and so, it’s important to incorporate language development activities into your daily routine.
Below are some easy techniques you can try at home today when spending time with your child.
Remember – the key is to find a balance. If you are talking too much then it might be too much language for your child and they’ll begin to tune out. Instead, intersperse these strategies throughout the day so your child has plenty of time to explore independently.
- Narrate a new chore each day: Pick a new chore each day that you are going to actively narrate. Choose bath time one day and getting dressed for child care the next. This will help your child to focus on what you are saying and get familiar with new vocabulary without losing interest.
- Use parallel talk during unstructured play: While unstructured play is a great way for your child to express themselves creatively, it can also be great for using parallel talk. While your child plays, describe the actions that they are making, the color of the toy they are using, and the expression on their faces.
- Try not to describe too much during self-talk: Sometimes as parents, we have a tendency to use too much language when describing certain actions or emotions. We become so focused on being a descriptive narrator that we go overboard and overwhelm our children. Instead, aim to comment on every second or third action. This gives your child a chance to respond if they want to.
Improving Language Development Through Early Learning Activities
Early learning activities are a core part of child development especially when it comes to language development. At Vivvi, our early learning center uses a curriculum that focuses on helping your child to reach those all-important language development milestones such as learning to babble, using familiar words, and how to speak with expression.