Parents and families are key to helping children develop speech and language skills.

Children learn a large portion of what they know through indirect teaching (e.g. watching their parents or people in their environment), so it is important to consciously focus on the way you interact with your child.

Consider some of the following techniques that will promote early speech and language development:

  1. Imitate your child because this will acknowledge their communication attempts and let them know you heard them.
  2. Expand on what they say so you’re always exposing them to new information (e.g. vocabulary & grammar).
  3. Create tempting opportunities to communicate where your child will want to interact because it might accomplish something (e.g. requesting for a preferred toy or game).

Reading is also a great way to help your child develop their speech and language skills. Try reading with enthusiasm by talking like the characters, making sound effects, and reading with expression because this will keep your child interested. Similarly, try to talk as you are reading – make comments, point to pictures, and talk about what’s happening. Again, these techniques will draw your child’s attention to important things in the story and keep them engaged.

Remember, the more you read the more interested your child becomes in the activity. Try to set aside special times for reading, even just 5 to 10 minute will make a difference.

Library programs are a great opportunity to help develop a child’s speech and language skills. For example, the Moncton Public Libraries offer a variety of children’s programs such as Babies in the Library for children 0 to 18 months, Toddler Time for children 18 months to 3 years of age, as well as Storytime for children 3 to 5 years of age.

These programs focus on books, nursery rhymes, songs, and fun activities with parents and their child. These are great activities to foster speech and language skills in children while having fun with books. In addition, to these recurring events, the libraries also offer seasonal programs related to different holiday’s or events (e.g. Halloween, first day of kindergarten, etc.). Check out their website for more information.