Engaging exercises to boost language development in toddlers - Hindustan Times

Engaging exercises to boost language development in toddlers

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Nov 07, 2023 09:16 AM IST

Attention parents! Looking for tips on nurturing linguistic skills in young children? Check out these fun activities to boost language development in toddlers

Language development in toddlers is a critical aspect for their overall growth hence, investing efforts and time in helping children develop language skills can greatly impact the way they communicate. According to experts, the age range between 1.5 years to 4.5 years is critical for language development and therefore parents need to be alert to speech and language development delays and initiate serious language development efforts including speech therapy.

Engaging exercises to boost language development in toddlers (Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels)
Engaging exercises to boost language development in toddlers (Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels)

During this phase, parents and caregivers play a pivotal role in nurturing the child’s linguistic skills where the journey from babbling and using random words to coherent speech is not only a captivating process but also a cornerstone of a child's early education. Parents should also work on developing concepts in children such as shapes, names of fruits, vegetables, animals, plants and more, as this will contribute to their language development.

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In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Sachu Ramalingam, Lead of Centre of Well-Being at Lighthouse Learning, shared the following tips and strategies to help children boost their language skills -

1. Conversational Engagement:

Meaningful conversations with toddlers can form the cornerstone of language development. This can help them learn words to express themselves and teach them the importance of being honest and vulnerable. Parents should foster communication and engage their child in discussions about their daily activities, interests, and feelings. This will strike an interest in them and help them to be a good conversationalist as they grow up.

2. Play-Based Learning:

Playing can be a very fun way to teach toddlers. Incorporating language-focused toys and games into their daily routines such as alphabet blocks, educational puzzles, and interactive storytelling apps can be engaging tools and help toddlers learn faster. This will also help instill the joy of learning within children and help them associate words with tangible objects, strengthening their vocabulary and language comprehension.

3. Use Multi-Sensory Activities:

Harness the power of multiple senses to enrich language development and engage in activities that involve touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. For instance, cooking together with toddlers will enable them to explore textures, tastes, and scents while learning the names of ingredients. Sensory play with materials like clay, sand, or water can also be highly beneficial for them in boosting language development.

4. Visiting a Museum:

Museum visits offer a unique opportunity to enhance language skills through experiential learning. Parents can explore interactive exhibits with their child and encourage them to describe what they see. Museums often have exhibits related to history, science, art, and more, providing a rich vocabulary-building experience.

He added, “Nurturing linguistic skills in toddlers is a rewarding journey that begins at home. Incorporating these effective strategies into the daily lives of toddlers can significantly boost language development and foster rich language skills in them.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Sibi Fakih, Head of Curriculum Development, Kangaroo Kids, said,Language development in toddlers is a learning journey that lays the foundation for effective communication, cognitive growth, and social interactions throughout their lives. Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in nurturing linguistic skills in their young ones during these formative years. While every child progresses at their unique pace, several engaging exercises can be practiced regularly, greatly emphasizing language development in toddlers.”

She suggested some exercises and techniques to help children build a strong linguistic foundation -

  • The road to making your child a reader involves developing complex and interconnected skills. These skills have the capability to decode unknown words but go far beyond phonics.
  • Reflect upon your personal experiences as an adult reader. Think about the knowledge, skills, and abilities that have contributed to your success. What makes reading valuable to you, and how does it bring joy and meaning into your life?
  • One fundamental aspect of comprehension is a broad knowledge base and a strong vocabulary. The more you know, the easier it is to learn from what you read.
  • Understanding the structure of books and stories is equally important. Recognizing the beginning, middle, and end of narratives helps you follow the flow of information and connect with the story.
  • Above all, consider the desire to read as an essential element. After all, what purpose do reading skills serve if you do not use them to immerse yourself in the world of books?

Highlighting that the science of reading confirms what we instinctively knew as parents and early childhood educators, she said, “It's the little things that we do, bit by bit, day after day, to develop our children’s language and early literacy skills throughout the first five years of life that build an essential foundation for success in elementary school and beyond.” She further advised -

  • Keep on helping your children to enjoy playing with sounds and language.
  • Keep on singing, rhyming, chanting, and chatting.
  • Keep helping your children fall in love with books, stories, and characters.
  • Keep encouraging them to dig, build, draw, paint, play, question, explore, and discover.
  • Keep on helping them come to know themselves as capable, confident learners.

Rest assured that these tiny habits, joyfully practiced, will eventually deliver significant results and make your children voracious readers. Gayatri Vaidya, Associate Vice President at Ei Shiksha, revealed, “Linguistic development in toddlers is a comprehensive process encompassing listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This journey begins within the first few months of a child's life and is significantly influenced by the linguistic richness of their environment. Research shows that language-rich homes foster early linguistic skill development, and this is especially important in multilingual settings, where children gradually identify and process the sounds of their mother tongue through a whole-language approach.”

She recommended, “Encouraging parents to engage with their children in their native language is pivotal. This can involve holding meaningful conversations, reading bedtime stories, and asking questions about the content of the story. Parents having more interaction time over instruction time seem to help toddlers learn better comprehension and analyses of various emotions as the children build complex vocabulary and complex sentence construction sense. These interactions not only support language learning but also play a crucial role in cognitive development.”

The expert concluded, “As toddlers enter the formal school environment, the collaborative effort of schools, parents, and communities is paramount for nurturing linguistic richness. By employing creative and engaging exercises, children can embark on their educational journeys with robust linguistic foundations. This collective approach not only ensures linguistic competence but also lays the groundwork for a brighter educational future, equipping children with essential tools for social, emotional and academic success.”

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