6 Ways to Support Early Childhood Skills - Achieve Beyond

6 Ways to Support Early Childhood Skills

Hi, I’m Michelle Cisso, and I work for Achieve Beyond as a speech language pathologist. Our focus today is to give six ways to support early childhood skills. The best times to promote the expansion and development of speech and language skills are during naturally occurring interactions. Most often, these occur during daily activities and play. There are plethora of strategies that you do not need to be a speech therapist to implement within your home. First, repetition, repetition, repetition. During daily activities and play-based routines, choose target words you want to focus on. When playing with cars, examples would be “go” and “drive.” Throughout the activity, repeat these target words over and over again such as “car,” “go, go, go,” and “drive car.” These build an association within the child’s mind between the vocabulary and the object or the action. Next, we have pausing. Pausing allows children to listen, understand, process, and respond to the language input they are receiving.

Pausing allows the interaction to be centered around the child’s needs and experience rather than the adult doing all the talking. If the child does not fill the pause, model and repeat can be used to teach the child the expected response. Next, use gestures. Using gestures paired with verbal output during requests, comment, or questions. Gestures allow children to comprehend the expressive input they are receiving and build connections between objects and expressive language. Children often imitate gestures modeled for them to indicate requests, wants, and needs, which helps reduce frustration to get their needs met. It is vital to pair the gestures with the expressive language such as pointing paired with car.

Next, reduce questions. When a lot of questions are asked, children become confused and overwhelmed. Replace questions with comments and observations to describe and explain the environment. This teaches children new words and vocabulary that they can use and imitate. Using comments in lieu of questions feels less like a quiz and more like a meaningful interaction. Five, create communication temptations. As a parent or caregiver, it’s very easy to anticipate a child’s every wine and cry. This doesn’t give the child an opportunity to voice their wants and needs, because they know they will get what they want without having to express it. Target items should be placed out of reach but within sight, or in a locked box, which allows children to search out their parents or caregiver to make requests, seek assistance, or ask questions to get their needs met.

Last, expand on your child’s phrase length. When a child uses single words, repeat the word they use and expand the utterance by one word. This looks like, if the child says “car,” the parent or caregiver should imitate and expand to “car, go.” This helps to hear longer but simple phrases, which enables them to increase their vocabulary and phrase length. Above all else, it’s important to make these interactions fun, engaging, meaningful, and memorable. These strategies should be fun to implement and not put added stress onto the child or adult. Hang up your adult hat and responsibilities even for just five minutes, and let your inner child run free.

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