These ideas will help everyone who’s involved in a child’s life to play a part in developing communication skills. They can be used in all activities, including play, and during daily routines such as dressing and mealtimes.
- Listen to the child’s noises and words, and repeat them back.
- Give the child time to process what you’ve said and respond.
- Let the child lead play, and give them choices wherever possible.
- Mirror what the child is doing – this encourages you to follow their lead rather than be too directive.
- Make comments instead of asking the child too many questions.
- Keep your language simple and repetitive to give the child lots of experience of important words and phrases.
- Remember that communication is more than just the words. Use body language, facial expression, gestures and signs, and respond when the child uses these.
- Get down at the child’s level and talk face to face.
The Department of Education has created a resource called Hungry Little Minds to help support parents and carers with tips to encourage speech, language and development in age appropriate stages.