When your child begins to ask question it is certainly the cutest thing on Earth! It might not even start as the word and they may just hold their hands up as if to ask where. They are basically copying what they see us do. In order to promote questions such as “where” things or people need to disappear!
We find that using naturally occurring opportunities is always a great way to target “where”. Let’s say in your household one parent goes to work in the morning and you practice saying “Bye Bye”… after that person leaves ask “Where did ____ go?”. The more consistent you are with your language, the more likely they will try to imitate it and then ultimately say it independently. Also, do not hesitate to talk about where Mommy and Daddy actually are. They of course do not fully understand the concept of work, shopping, errands, etc. yet, but it’s teaching them that when people ask “where” it is referring to a place. It also helps give them a sense of time and routine (e.g. – we run errands in the afternoon).
And there are of course the millions of language opportunities that you can intentionally create, which is great for practicing object permanence. For instance, you can keep it simple and use a blanket and have a block disappear under the blanket and then ask “where” while also doing a confused gesture. You can also do more involved activities such as creating a sensory bin filled with rice, beans, grass, leaves, etc. Hide some of their favorite objects inside or magnets, animals, shapes, letters, etc. Before looking you can model “where” once again and then comment on what you find within the sensory bin. It’s a great vocabulary building activity!
You may have noticed that your child is starting to say more words these past couple weeks! And some of them may even be more than 2-syllable words such as “baby”. You may be hearing more difficult words such as 3-syllable “blueberry” or 4-syllable “caterpillar”. Even if they may not be saying each sound correctly it is totally fine! In fact, at this age a phonological process called weak syllable deletion is actually very common. For instance, “banana” may become “nana” because they child is naturally deleting the weak syllable to make it easier to produce. Actually a very clever trick that toddlers use!
Some general tips to encourage multi-syllable words include tapping out the syllables on the table or on your leg or their arm. Make sure to break it up such as “straw-ber-ry”. Another trick is to make sure to emphasize the weak syllable as in “ele-PHANT”. Singing songs is also a great time to target multi-syllable words (eg – Old McDonald). Soon your child will be saying “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!
Reading time! It’s a time where we all chill, get cozy, and grab one of your favorite tales! Yes, it’s true some children, even at this age, do not like to sit for long periods of time. But we have found that if you find a book that really motivates a child, you can get them to sit for at least a few minutes. For instance, in our household it’s mainly dinosaurs or anything related to animals for that matter!
When children get hooked on a book, they love when you read it to them over and over. Repetition like we’ve talked about before is key! At this age they may even request “read”, “book”, or “read book”. Some may even be able to tell you what book they want.
Once they become familiar with a book you can begin to make it a very interactive experience! You can start by modeling language that is not in the book. For instance, draw attention to other items you see that the story does not mention – “Oh look I see a kite in the sky!”. You can also ask simple “what” questions such as “What is that?” or “Who is that?”, especially if you know it’s a word that they know so that they can be intrinsically rewarded when they answer.
As your child gains more language you can ask more complex questions such as “How is the weather?”, “Where are they going?”, “Why is he sad?”, etc. When they get older, you can have them predict what comes next, recall what happened in the story, or ask them to tell you about their favorite part of the story. Remember – keeping questions open-ended will get the most language out of your children!
We come across many parents that are not worried about the amount of words their child has, but about how they produce the words. In most cases – especially this early on – it is nothing to worry about. For example, our son produces “awdi” for “horsie” – his favorite animal. This is a natural occurrence and is simplification of hard sounds – very clever actually! It is called phonological processes. We wanted to let you know what is normal for this age and what to expect. They normally disappear by the age of 3-5 depending on the phonological process. Here it is below:
Stopping – bus → bud
Weak Syllable deletion – banana → nana
Fronting – cup → tup
Devoicing – bed → bet
Final consonant deletion – boat → boa
Cluster reduction – star → tar
Gliding – rope → wope
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