Most children learn the rules of language from an early age because of the frequency with which they use those rules. It’s fascinating how so many young children are able to say a variety of words and colloquial expressions, even without having yet received any formal instruction. Humans are wired for spoken language. Oral language development naturally occurs in many kids before we even begin to teach them different language rules. These youngsters learn to talk just by listening to the language spoken around them.
Mastering oral language skills is key in order to succeed academically and socially. Our children use language to help them process new information, ask questions, and interact with others. Oral language development takes place primarily through conversation. These skills can be taught formally with strategies like drills and recitation, or informally through storytelling, reading aloud, and interpersonal conversations. Oral language is a critical skill for children to develop during their foundational years.
Beyond that which is taught in the classroom, it is vital to help improve your child’s oral skills through various activities at home. In this post, we will discuss a few helpful activities you can do at home with your children to help boost their oral language development.
Read aloud to your child
It’s beneficial to read and reread storybooks over and over before moving on to new books and stories. This is a great way to introduce new words and help your child practice fluency. Ask children to read with expression and emotion as if they are narrating each story.
Engage your child in plenty of conversation
Social interactions help compel children to practice speaking. At times, your child may need some guidance during conversations. Be there to help little ones learn how to express themselves more effectively and clearly. You may also help them by rephrasing what they’ve said by using different words or ask questions that require them to elaborate and speak more.
Ask questions about what your child is reading
Another great way to support your child’s oral language development is by asking questions before and after reading a story with your child. This method encourages children to examine the story more closely, and to absorb information using words. Here are some specific questions you may ask before, during, and after reading a story:
- Have your child read the story’s summary and ask these questions:
- Where does the story start?
- What is the theme of the story?
- What makes you think that?
- During the reading session, ask children:
- What do you think will happen?
- What makes you think that will happen?
- After you finish a story, ask:
- Who were the characters in the story?
- What was the plot about?
- How did the story end?
- What are the main points and supporting ideas of the story?
Question of the day
Another great strategy is to come up with a different question each day that is age-appropriate for your child. Every morning, post your question of the day on the fridge. Then, encourage your child to think about the answer. Begin with simple questions, like “What’s your favorite color?” If your child struggles to answer the question using a complete sentence, model answering what a complete sentence sounds like for your child, and then ask him or her to use the same format to answer.
If you notice that your child can answer each question of the day using a complete sentence, then it’s time to shift to more challenging questions. Come up with questions that will require two-sentence answers. Keep going, and each time you can make the questions a little harder.
Remind your child to speak clearly
It’s important for children to understand that it is necessary to speak clearly in order to ensure that the listener is attentive, and to communicate their opinions and information effectively. Also, help your little one practice speaking in a clear and appropriate tone.
Sing children’s songs and rhymes
Most children’s songs contain simple words and common phrases. Actively engaging your little one in singing is another great way to enrich oral language development. Songs provide plenty of opportunities to introduce new vocabulary while keeping things fun. In addition to teaching new words, songs also introduce children to the rhythm and beat of language, which will help with fluency during speech too.
Engage in make-believe play
Imaginative play is an essential component when it comes to the development of children’s oral language skills. According to studies, children who engage in make-believe play use relatively challenging words more often than during typical everyday conversations. Since they are pretending to be someone else (often an adult character) they tend to speak using words they wouldn’t ordinarily use during real speech. This practice stimulates language development.
Why is oral language development so important?
Language development is a vital part of children’s growth. When kids’ language skills develop and broaden, they are able to communicate more effectively and express and understand their emotions more clearly. Mastering oral language enhances children’s cognitive skills and helps them learn how to better navigate interpersonal relationships.
Akers Academy supports children’s oral language development by implementing a variety of engaging lessons. Contact us today for more information!