There are many ways for parents, nannies or babysitters to aid their children reach their language milestones. The answer lies, simply, in play. Language games are a great way to encourage brain development. These games are the good old fashioned kind – interaction with people – so put that phone and tablet away. Children here need loving adults who will talk to them, read to them and sing to them.
Here are a few of our favourite language games. See what games are suitable for which age group, and help your children reach their milestones in language development.
Birth to Two Years Old:
At the end of their first year, your baby should be able to imitate different speech sounds. At the end of their second, they will have a 50-word vocabulary and may be putting a couple of those words together to form phrases like ‘go, bye-bye’ or ‘drink please’.
Action words will be a novelty, and everyday events such as meals and bath time are perfect opportunities for these quick one-minute language games:
Engage with sound imitations
Get your little one’s attention by clucking your tongue. When they look, cluck it three times. Don’t be discouraged if they lose interest — just try again later. Sooner or later, they’ll try to cluck back. When they do, praise them and keep the game going as long as they stay engaged.
Share some giggles over rhyme time
At this age, you’ll take the most active role in the game, but that’s okay. Babies and toddlers soak up information like sponges. To begin, recite a simple nursery rhyme like Jack and Jill. Next, because children love exaggeration, vary how you say the rhymes in different funny voices. You could do pirate style, monster style, or mouse style!
Three to Five Years Old
Your little talker will be using phrases and even sentences consistently now. Your child should speak easily without having to repeat syllables or words. They’ll even use concepts like when or how in their statements and questions.
Let your child be the boss
Children love being in charge, so give them the chance to build their vocabulary while calling the shots. Have your child practice giving you directions, such as how they want you to build a Lego tower or how to draw a picture.
Play echo echo
Begin this game by cupping hands around your mouth and saying ‘yoo-hoo!’ Children repeat, ‘yoo-hoo!’. Then, move on to calling out other statements. Children listen and echo it back. You could also give your child a chance to lead this game to foster their creativity.
Six to Eight Years Old
Your child will be able to recite their address and phone number now and will be making sentences with more than five or six words. They will ask questions to clarify information. They will also articulate their feelings, so it’s crucial to listen carefully when they share.
Turn it up
Purchase a toy microphone or make one by wrapping aluminium foil around a toilet paper roll. Have the children pass the microphone around as they take turns talking. If they use a soft voice, put a round sticker on the microphone and ask them to ‘turn up the volume.’
Make a circle of kindness
Children at this age can make a ‘compliment circle’ where children go around the group and make positive comments about friends.