Language is made up of listening, speaking, reading and writing, and all the components of language are closely linked. Parents can assist the child to develop listening and speaking skills, which, in turn, lays the foundation for reading and writing, in the following ways:
· Answering his questions whilst giving him your full attention. Provide a scaffold for his learning by extending it. For example, a child may ask why a bee visits a flower. This will lead to an answer and an extension of that answer by explaining a little more. Instead of answering ,“To drink nectar” take it a little further and explain about the transfer of pollen to another flower. Answer according to the age of the child.
· Take your child on outings to broaden his knowledge and vocabulary.
· Discuss shared experiences such as a trip to the beach/zoo/a viewed TV program.
· Don’t correct his incorrect speech. Merely repeat his speech in the correct way. For example if he says“ Member when we go’d to the park,” answer “Yes, I remember when we WENT to the park.” If one keeps correcting a child’s speech he may be afraid to try new words. Children learn how to speak by hearing language correctly spoken.
· Read to your child daily. Try making bedtime 10 minutes earlier to allow time for stories to be read or told. Reading to a child is an incredible tool for concentration and language development. Ask questions after the story. To stimulate the thinking process, whilst telling the story stop and ask questions such as, “I wonder why …?” “What do you think is going to happen?” “Why do you think …?”
· Make a scrapbook of memories with your child. There could be pictures of an outing the family went on, a birthday party, a special event, different members of the family and extended family, friends or different places visited. Discuss the pictures with your child – you will often find him repeating your exact words as he discusses the pictures with someone else.
· Stimulate his thinking process and his language development by pointing simple things out to him such as – the light goes on when a switch is pressed; the bath water goes down the plug; the strength of an ant who carries away crumbs which are bigger than his body. Let him ask “Why? How? Where?”
· Listening to poems and songs are an enjoyable way to extend language. Make up silly songs or rhymes together.
· Talk to your child about sensitive topics such as bullying and teasing others; stealing; lying etc. Ask questions such as “How do you think you would feel if …” Telling stories about such topics is a good way to get the message across.