Communication occurs in many ways, as it encompasses language to achieve its goal. Language includes both receptive (understanding) and expressive (use) development. Before a baby begins to talk he is taking in a lot of information from his environment around him – he is learning to understand. A child’s understanding of a word is always a precursor to the appropriate use of a word. Thus we must always focus on understanding first and thereafter the use of the word in the activities we do to help develop communication.
- Call him by his name, when he responds praise him and use lots of facial expressions.
- When he makes a sound, imitate it and then take turns talking with each other.
- Let him play with everyday objects that make different sounds and start teaching environmental sounds (e.g. animals, telephone, car etc.) from a young age.
- Let him watch you as you are busy around the house, and tell him what you are doing.
Although some of these activities might seem obvious and activities that occur naturally. The key is to remember to be intentional in using the activities to develop communication and not just because you are ‘playing’ with your child.
Have fun and never forget that you are your child’s key to developing these skills!
- Ask your child to do simple things, and wait for a response before showing them how to complete your request. E.g. ’give me your hand’, ’wave bye-bye’.
- Try to understand what is meant by the sounds he is beginning to use and help him with the words. E.g. ’ba’ –(baby), ’Yes, you have a ball’ (mom)
- Give him a choice of things to play with, by giving him two objects well spaced out. Notice how he indicates, this could be through eye contact, through pointing or through vocalizations.
- Talk to your child about what he or she needs or wants you to do for her. Ask her to practice and show her the gestures to go along with a need. E.g. ’I am hungry’ (rubbing the tummy).
- Using a book, read your child a story and then ask him questions about the story, where he can either point or name things.
- Play a game using a few objects that the child often sees in the house and make sure that he or she knows the objects by asking him to point to the ones that you name. Place two objects in front of him and show him a picture of one of them. He must point to the object that is the same as on the picture. As he gets better, you can increase the number of objects.
- Put many pictures in front of the child and ask him, ’Show me all the ones that we wear’.
- Talk about where people and things are. ’I am next to you’, ’the ball is under the table’.