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8 ways to encourage your toddler's language skills

By Louise Day, Speech and Language Therapist

1. Choices Offer your child a choice of two things. Hold the two objects up if possible and say the words (e.g. milk or water). Choices offer the child a sense of control as well as an opportunity to use words, sounds or gestures to communicate.

2. Pause

Let your child know you want them to join in. Read a familiar story and pause at the end of the line and wait for them to fill in the gap. Don't worry if they don't. Children can take time to become familiar with a routine.

3. Routine

Repeat the same words during an activity. For example: when building a tower, you could say 'up, up, up, down!' This will help the child learn new words and they may try and copy you!

4. Follow Interests

Have you ever tried to learn something you're totally disinterested in? You’re not motivated at all! If your child loves buses, chat about buses, read about buses, sing about buses, go watching buses. They learn most when they're engaged and it's exciting for them.

5. Hold a bit back

Offer your child a small amount of something (e.g. pour a small amount of juice into their cup, give them a few crisps) and see if they will signal they want more. This could be by taking your hand, by going to the cupboard where the crisps are, or by trying to say ‘more!’

6. Miss Something Out

For example: you could give your child a yoghurt and no spoon and wait to see if they request the missing part. We do a lot for our children without thinking about it and this strategy can develop vocabulary around your child asking for help - a vital life skill.

7. Copy

Get your child's attention in one simple way - copy what they're doing! If they're hitting a spoon on the table, copy them. This could get a conversation going, you each tapping your spoons (sounds funny but the child will love you speaking their language).

8. Use Music

Singing songs and dancing to music are great opportunities for your child to copy actions (think Twinkle Twinkle and Wind the Bobbin Up). Copying is a vital skill in learning to talk. Music is a great way for children to move their bodies, express themselves and learn about rhythm, which is also important in speech development.


About the author

Louise Day

Speech and Language Therapist

Louise is passionate about supporting parents to help their children with talking so everyone experiences less frustration. Being a mum of two, she also knows what it’s like to be busy and not have a lot of time!

You can follow Louise on Instagram @louisedayslt or get in touch here


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