As They Grow: Encourage Language in Young Children

encourage language in young childrenWe spend a lot of time on the go and outside in July, but parents can still encourage more words during these activities.  The University of Kansas developed a great resource:  Strategies for Promoting Communication and Language of Infants and Toddlers.  Specific examples of how to encourage language are provided.  Two that can be used this summer with your child:

Commenting and labeling
When your child is doing something, talk about their actions or the objects they are playing with.  Their brain is already focused on these and you are just providing the language to go with it.  If your child is playing with sand, you might say : “You’re pouring the sand in the bowl,”  or “Deandra has filled her bowl with sand,” or  “The sand feels cool on my fingers.”  When your child is moving, comment:  “You’re climbing so high,” or “You can run so fast.”

Image from Pediatric Interactions
Image from Pediatric Interactions

Asking open ended questions
Often parents ask yes/no questions, “Do you want to play ball?”, requiring the child to only respond “yes” or “no”.  To try and get the child to say more, we may follow up with “say ball”.  This can frustrate the child, he/she already indicated they want to play with the ball and we are asking them to tell us again!  Rather, ask open ended questions, such as what, who, where, how, and why.   Once we know the child wants to play with the ball, ask “Which color ball?”, “Where should we throw it?”, “Who’s going to throw it first?”, “How high can you throw the ball?”, “What will happen if we throw the ball in the water?”  Younger children may not initially answer these more complex questions, wait then model the answer or break the question down more, using a choice…”red or blue ball?” or have them fill in the word, “Where should we throw the ball?  Into the….”).

There are a lot of great explore and encourage language outside and, for those rainy/colder days, places to play inside.  Check out WeeBits’ list of local resources.


PI_WB Long

Pediatric Interactions and WeeBits invite families to these upcoming events. Fees may apply but financial assistance may be available through WeeBits. Follow links for complete information:

Singing and Signing Class
July 10, 17, 24 & 31 9:30 – 10:15 a.m. (4 weeks), Pediatric Interactions 15 Commerce Dr., Suite 116, Grayslake
Come learn new songs and signs to encourage Communication and Socialization, Facilitated by a speech-language pathologist and handouts will be provided. Suggested age: 6 months to 3 years old with a grown up. Drop in rate $12/class or Tuition $40, however, additional financial assistance may be available (request can be made to:  info@weebitsforfamilies.org). Registration online  or call 224-360-2542

Singing and Signing Class
July 11, 18, 25 & August 1 9:30 – 10:15 a.m. (4 weeks), Pediatric Interactions 15 Commerce Dr., Suite 116, Grayslake
Come learn new songs and signs to encourage Communication and Socialization, Facilitated by a speech-language pathologist and handouts will be provided. Suggested age: 6 months to 3 years old with a grown up. Drop in rate $12/class or Tuition $40, however, additional financial assistance may be available (request can be made to:  info@weebitsforfamilies.org). Registration online or call 224-360-2542


Pediatric Interactions is a Speech and Language Clinic located in Grayslake that supports independence and self-esteem using creative therapy approaches. Pediatric Interventions provides FREE developmental screenings, individual and group therapy, classes, workshops and other resources to help children better communicate.

WeeBits is a non-profit organization bringing awareness and guidance to those families with infants/toddlers who fall outside the boundaries of existing child developmental programs. 

About Loralie 420 Articles
When Loralie isn’t out exploring with her two pint-sized adventurers you’ll often find her in front of her computer plotting to take over the world (or at least Lake County.) She appreciates good friends, good food, expensive shoes and parents who make two lanes in the drop-off/pick-up line at school. Her spirit animal is The Hobbit. She invites you to join her on her quest for unique distractions, diversions and deliciousness in this county we call home. She is the Features Editor and Marketing Director at Little Lake County.

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