The ABCs of Language

The ABCs of Language: How to Help Young Children Develop Critical Communication Skills

If only helping children develop language and communication skills was as simple as ABC. Although it may be a complicated and, at times, trying process, our Atlanta private school teachers have found many tools and tricks that parents can use to help their children improve these critical skills.

Your child’s brain is incredibly complex and is in a constant state of taking in and processing information. Parents can use this to their advantage by intentionally seeking opportunities to model and encourage healthy communication.

So, what are the ABCs of developing stronger language skills? We’ll walk you through the best tips and tricks our Georgia private school teachers have to offer, from A, all the way to Z.

A. Active Listening

We might think we’re listening to our children when they speak to us, but it’s easy to let our body language say otherwise. Whenever possible, try to give your child your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. Maintain eye contact and give a short nod or an, “Oh, I see,” to let them know they have your focus.

B. Books and Stories

Studies upon studies have shown that reading and storytelling from infancy and beyond is one of the most effective ways to develop healthy communication skills and a robust vocabulary. Make reading a part of your daily routine and include a variety of books and stories.

C. Conversation

Take every opportunity to engage in rich, two-sided conversations with your child. The more comfortable your child is with conversing with adults, the faster their language skills will develop.

D. Daily Routine

Rather than trying these tricks here and there, try to make them a part of your daily routine. Consistency is crucial for developing healthy communication habits.

E. Environment

A child’s home environment should encourage and model mature and respectful communication. Remember that children pick up on everything, and we mean everything. Let your language light the path of healthy communication for your child.

F. Feelings

Children can sometimes struggle to express their feelings, leaving them feeling incompetent in their communication skills. Make feelings a regular part of conversation from an early age and teach them how to describe their feelings with their words.

G. Group Play

Nothing is quite as entertaining as watching a pair of toddlers communicate with one another in a language all their own. Although we might struggle to understand them at times, they never seem to have a problem understanding one another. Children benefit greatly from learning to communicate with their peers, so go ahead, schedule that play date!

H. Have Fun

Though it’s crucial to be intentional when it comes to communication, it is equally important that communication exercises don’t become a chore or a task to check off the list. Language can be taught in various ways, whether through stories, music, or games. The best way to teach these skills to your child is by making it fun.

I. Imaginative Play

There’s something so sweet about listening to your child in the other room, lost in play, having imaginary conversations with their toys, and completely enraptured in the world they’ve created. Unfortunately, screens are rapidly replacing imaginative play, and communication deficiency is becoming increasingly common. Provide your child with toys such as dolls, action figures, and costumes that will stimulate their imagination and keep them off the screens as much as possible.

J. Just Listen

If you’ve watched enough Bluey, you probably remember the episode where Bingo has to find her voice without Bluey’s help. This is an excellent lesson for parents as well. It can be so easy for parents to try to finish their child’s sentences in an attempt to move along conversations. However, this only causes children to rely on someone else to communicate for them. So, even when it tries your patience, allow your child to find their voice by simply listening.

K. Keep Trying

Some days it may seem like your child’s communication skills are developing in leaps and bounds, while others may feel like you drew the long chute in the game of Chutes and Ladders. The key to creating language habits that last is patience. If one technique doesn’t take, try another and return to it later.

L. Labeling

Get out the labeling machine or index cards and make labels the latest addition to your home decor. Label anything and everything your child will see regularly, from the lamp to the dishwasher.

M. Model Healthy Communication

Baby talk might seem cute, but speaking to your child in this way can hinder their brain from developing as it should. Instead, give their brain the challenge it craves by allowing them to hear healthy and mature communication.

N. Narration

Narrating is a great way to encourage and develop early communication, specifically with toddlers. Explain to your child what you’re doing. For example, you can say,“Right now I’m making dinner. First we need to preheat the oven.” Or, narrate your child’s activities, e.g., “You’re coloring a picture with crayons.”

O. Open-Ended Question

Try to avoid questions that are easily answered with a “yes” or “no” and opt instead for questions that encourage your child to elaborate.

P. Patience

It’s no secret that parenting requires a lot of patience. Teaching your child to communicate is no different. Remember that your child’s brain is constantly working to take in and process information, and that’s a lot of work. Celebrate the improvements you do see and when you meet a hiccup, put that patience into practice and try, try again.

Q. Quality Time

Spending uninterrupted, quality time with your child is one of the best ways to help them to develop healthy communication skills. It’s hard for children to learn proper communication from grown-ups who are often distracted by phones, so try to set aside technology-free time each day to spend time with your child.

R. Rhyme

Teaching your child to recognize rhyming words and sounds is incredibly beneficial to brain and language development. Teach them nursery rhymes, read some books by Dr. Seuss, or make up rhymes in the car on your way to school.

S. Sing

Singing and music are crucial to childhood development in a variety of ways. Songs can help children memorize information, boost their mood, broaden their vocabulary, and improve their communication skills.

T. Technology

The language resources available to today’s parents are seemingly endless, thanks to modern technology. When used in moderation, reading and language apps can be a fun and useful tool.

U. Use Your Imagination

Get silly, get wild, and get creative. No one knows your child better than you. You know what excites them and how they learn best, so develop language games that are unique to your child.

V. Visual Aid

Grab a set of flashcards, a chart, or some picture books and play a game of point and read.

W. Word Association

Show your child how to make connections between words and their meanings, between similar words, and between contrasting words.

X. (e)Xploration

Children are born explorers. Luckily, language can be discovered through a wide variety of real-world experiences. Get outside, book a trip, or visit a museum and watch your child soak up language skills like a sponge.

Y. You Know Your Child Best

It can be easy to fixate on what may be the developmental norm for most children, which can often lead to discouragement. Try to focus on the progress your child is making and remember that they are unique. While some things may take more work, they also have strengths in areas that others do not. It’s great to keep those developmental milestones in mind, but don’t focus so much on those that you miss the progress your child is making.

Z. Zeal for Language

Even as adults, there is so much more that we can learn about language and communication. There’s always more to discover and explore. There’s always room to grow. That’s what makes language so fun. Remind your child that just as they are learning and improving, so are you. Language is a journey that you can take together. By using these tips and tricks to keep learning fun and tailored to your child, you’ll help them develop a love for communication that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.