For child language development, create a language-rich environment

Child language development happens best in a language-rich environment where parents and caregivers talk to children frequently using a wide vocabulary. I strongly encourage all the parents I work with to create a language-rich environment for their young children.

A language-rich environment is pretty much what the name suggests: a setting in which the child is surrounded by talk and has plenty of opportunities to communicate with others.

Research on child language development has confirmed the importance of talking frequently to children below age 3 and using a wide variety of vocabulary. Toddlers whose parents do this develop better expressive and receptive language skills than children whose parents talk less with them and use a limited vocabulary. Click here to go to The Language Fix, a site that summarizes and discusses research on language and language development.

The value of this is not limited to children with speech and language disorders. All children can benefit from a healthy and varied diet of language activities. The links below take you to tips and ideas for talking to your child in ways that help develop better language skills.

Turn off the TV

Talk, talk, talk (slowly and simply)

Sing and rhyme (if you can't sing, rap)

Get out the toys and play, but ditch the batteries

"Talk" some books to your child

Wonder without asking


Use focused stimulation

Learn (and use) some baby signs

If this seems like a lot of information all at once, that's because it is! Don't try to implement everything at once. Instead, pick one of these things you think you can do, and try it for a week. Once it becomes a habit, add something else. You may already be doing some or all of these things. If so, see if you can do them more often and be more conscious of them while you're doing them. After all, very few parents are actually doing anything wrong, but most parents can do more right.

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