Language Stimulation for Children
Language stimulation is a set of activities and procedures that a parent, guardian, or educator can perform to promote a child’s language comprehension. When used properly, language stimulation can help a child learn and understand additional words, speak in longer sentences, participate in back-and-forth communication, and learn how to use language for a variety of social situations
Self-talk is a language stimulation technique in which the parent, guardian, or educator describes their actions before or while performing them. Self-talk is more potent when the child being taught is involved. One example of self-talk would be, “I’m sitting next to you so I can see what you’re trying to put into your mouth.”
Parallel talk is similar to self-talk, but it focuses on the child’s actions instead of the actions of the parent, guardian, or educator. It is important to use pauses, eye contact, and body language when employing parallel talk to encourage the child to participate in the communication. One example of parallel talk would be, “It’s your snack time. You’re eating applesauce. When you finish eating your applesauce, you will eat some orange slices next.”
Child-directed speech is not the same concept as “baby talk.” Child-directed speech involves the parent, guardian, or educator changing the pitch, tone, and tempo of their voice to make the voice easier for the child to understand. Pronounced fluctuations in pitch, slow speaking rates, frequent pauses, and clear, emphasized pronunciations are some factors that can help a child understand an adult’s speech more clearly.
The expansions technique prompts the parent, guardian, or educator to take a one-word or two-word phrase from a child and turn it into a complete and relevant sentence. Not only will expansions teach the child how to form complete sentences, expansions indicate that the adult is listening to the child. For example: if the child sees a dog and says, “doggy,” the adult could use expansion and say, “Yes, the dog is running through the park with its owner.”
Extensions are similar to expansions, where the parent, guardian, or educator takes the child’s speech and lengthens it to a complete sentence. However, extensions differ in how they’re used; when a child combines two or more words, but does not yet have a complete sentence, the adult creates a complete sentence. This allows the adult to subtly correct the child and teach the child how to use the words properly. If a child were to say, “Car go,” the adult could use extensions to respond, “The car is red. The red car is going towards the stop sign. The red car stops.”
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please feel free to contact us at the Speech and Occupational Therapy in North Texas to schedule a consultation.