[Overton]

Facilitating Language Development: How to Talk to Young Children

by Valerie Johnston, MS, CCC-SLP

  1. USE EXAGGERATED INTONATION AND STRESS.
  2. This can include any combination of the following: overall higher pitch, rising pitch at the end of sentences, changing pitch to draw attention to parts of a sentence, whispering to get your child's attention, and stressing important words by increasing your volume. Talking in this manner draws attention to your speech and highlights important words and phrases.

  3. USE SHORT SENTENCES.
  4. The length of your sentences should be close to the length of the sentences your child usually uses. This makes it easier for your child to imitate you, and children learn to talk by imitating.

  5. USE PAUSES AND STRETCH OR LENGTHEN KEY WORDS.
  6. Use pauses following content words or sentences.
    Example: Truck. (pause) Push truck. (pause) Push (pause) truck.

    Make the important words slightly longer.
    Example: See the beeaaar.

    Using pauses and stretching key words draws attention to the important parts of your message and helps your child attend to these elements.

  7. USE REWORDING AND EXPANSION, BUT KEEP THE MEANING THE SAME.
  8. Use of these techniques allows you to expand your child's vocabulary and model more advanced grammatical forms while still responding to the meaning of your child's message.
    Example 1: Child says, "Ball." Adult responds, "Big Ball."
    Example 2: Child says, "Baby fall." Adult responds, "The baby fell down."

  9. FOLLOW YOUR CHILD'S LEAD.

When you follow your child's lead, you talk about what your child is interested in at that time. By doing this you are ensuring that you have your child's attention and that your child has at least some level of interest in the topic. People (both children and adults) are more motivated to learn and learn more easily when they are interested in the subject matter.

 

If you have questions or need more information you can contact me at:

Overton Speech & Language Center, Inc.
Fort Worth, TX
(817) 294-8408

info@overtonspeech.net

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Last revised: December 29, 2001