Welcome all to my first blog post! First of all, I’d like to say that I am not a writer by any means. It’s always been something that I dreaded, a huge fear of mine. Why? It’s simple. I’ve never been good at it! My mind is usually going 100mph and trying to get that on paper usually comes out as “blah”. I worry that my writing will be judged by others and simply be flat out terrible. BUT! Isn’t that why we practice? How are we going to excel if we don’t try? Isn’t that why we take our kids to baseball practice? Let’s face it, they are usually pretty terrible at the beginning of the season. Missing the fly ball, swinging as soon as the pitcher releases the ball or missing the tag out at home. I’m looking at this blog experience as my own “writing” little league experience in hopes of reaching the World Series. Ok, Ok. I’ll be ecstatic if I even finish the season! So here I am, exposing all my vulnerability and fears. Are you guys ready? Here we go!
The whole purpose of this blog is to provide you with information, tips and activities that you can use with your children to increase language development. These are often things that I do with my child or have come across in articles that I have found to be invaluable. Life is busy and can get really hectic, trust me, I get it! But how precious are those times that we get with our children when they are not running around the house, jumping on the couch, or climbing on the dining table? If your kid is anything like my toddler those times tend to be few and far between. I usually get the most from my kid when I am in the car dropping him off with the babysitter or picking him up. He is strapped in his car seat and unable to run away or become distracted by outside stimuli. This time is VALUABLE and I encourage you use it to your advantage. I know how tempting turning up the radio to tune out your yelling kid or to unwind from your stressful day but I’m placing this challenge before you. Do the following with your kids for at least 5 minutes every day in the car and you will see progress! Of course, you can modify these activities based on your child’s age, this is just a basis in hopes that it may spark some of your own ideas.
- Sing in the car. My son loves “Old McDonald”. When my husband and I first introduced the song we would just sing it and let him listen. After a while, he began to sing the “EIEIO” part. We began to expand on this by asking him. What does the cow say? We modeled “moo” and proceeded to sing the song. What does the cat say? “meow” and proceeded. We continued to do this until he was familiar with the animals and corresponding sounds. After a few days, we would pause and give him an opportunity to answer. Sure enough, he was able to imitate the animal sounds. This song is perfect because it is repetitive. Kids love repetition. This song increases vocabulary, elicits sounds, imitation and answering “wh” questions.
- Talk, Talk, Talk. Even if your child can not respond to you. They listen to EVERYTHING. When you get in the car let them know where you are going. In my case, I let my son know we are going to the babysitter’s house. I tell him we are going to see “Leann, Martha, etc”. I let him know that mommy is going to work and will pick him up later. When I pick him up I usually ask the babysitter what they did for the day and use that as topic of conversation for the ride home. If they went to the park I ask him if he played outside, swung on the swing, who he played with, etc. This engages him and gives them opportunities to answer questions. Whether they are complex or simple yes/no questions, given their age of course. Again, this is providing a language rich environment for your child.
- Where is…? When I am driving home I make sure to point out all the things we drive by. I say “look at the car” or “look at the trees”. When he is able to identify these things I will begin asking him “where is the car?” he will respond by saying “there it is” and pointing. This tells me that he is increasing his skills in identifying common objects. After a while, your child should start naming these things on their own by pointing and saying “tree” or “car”. I always reinforce and say good job! This encourages them to continue to use their expressive language skills.
There you have it, 3 simple things to do in the car with your kids to elicit language development. I hope you found this information useful and decide to give it a whirl the next time you hop in the car with your kiddos. Again, these are very basic and remember you can always modify to make them more difficult based on your child’s age. Until next time!