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Helping Your Child Learn Language

​​How can I encourage my child to talk?

Comment on what you see your child doing instead of asking questions. Too many questions may end a conversation. When you do ask questions, try to use ones that are open-ended and need a longer answer than just “yes” or “no”. Use questions that start with “wh” words like what, who, and where. For example, “What happened when the bear ran into the river?” needs a longer answer than “Did the bear get wet when he ran into the river?”

How long should I wait for my child to respond?

Remember the phrase “Wait till 8.” Count to 8 after you’ve made a comment or asked a question. Your child may need time to think about what they want to say and how they’re going to say it.

How can I teach my child new words or ideas?

Try adding words to your child’s sentences. This will encourage your child to use correct grammar when they talk. Some children have trouble saying all the little words in sentences. Repeat what your child said, but say it correctly. This can help them know how to say it. For example if your child says, “I eat the spoon,” you would say “You eat soup with a spoon.”

How can I introduce harder words?

Sometimes there are lots of different words that mean the same thing in our language. For example, there are many words for “big”. Your child needs to hear you use other words (e.g., tall, long, thick, high, large, gigantic) so they can learn them too. It’s important for your child to know many different words when they start school.

How often should I read with my child?

It’s important to read to your child every day. You can read comics, cereal boxes, flyers, signs, books, instructions for games—even ads on the sides of buses. . Bedtime is a great time to read together, but reading can be a part of any time of the day. Your child may want you to read the same book over and over, and that’s okay.

How can I make reading fun?

Take time to talk about a new book before you start to read it. Look at the picture on the cover and ask your child what they think the story might be about. You can also talk about similar experiences that our child had (e.g., “Remember when we saw a giraffe at the zoo?”). While reading, use different voices for each character in the story. Ask your child what they think the characters are feeling or what might happen next in the story.

How can I help my child learn about writing?

Let your child experiment with printing and writing. Have paper, crayons, markers, and paints on hand. Make time during the day to draw pictures, make signs, create lists, and write cards together. Early practice is important for later writing. Let your child help you write a shopping list. Even if your child’s just scribbling, they’re learning one of the many ways written language can be used. Write names, words, and letters on the sidewalk in chalk or in the sand and snow with a stick.

Have fun talking about and exploring your world.

Remember to have fun with your child. Talk about their favourite things. Have fun singing, playing, reading, and talking together. Your child will always remember the fun you have together, and they’ll be learning at the same time. ​​​

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