This first example is directed more at early language learners, but that more advanced language users can always learn something new. Highlight your language while building a snowman

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South East Cornerstone Early Learning and Care

What parents and caregivers can do to help their child learn language and expand vocabulary during fun, everyday activities

This first example is directed more at early language learners, but that more advanced language users can always learn something new.

Highlight your language while building a snowman

Help your child learn a new word while you have fun building a snowman together. You can help your child learn the word “roll” by using the Four S’s:

Say less – Use short, simple sentences so that your child doesn’t have too much information to take in at once. For example, “Let’s roll a snowball.”

Stress – Draw your child’s attention to the important word by stressing it and pausing for a moment before and after the word. For example, “Now we need to...roll...the head of the snowman.”

Go Slow – Slow down your speech to give your child more time to understand what you are saying and to give her a chance to say something herself.

Show – Young children learn language best when they can see what you’re talking about. So make sure to use the word “roll” while you’re doing the action together. For example, “We’re rolling such a big snowball!”

And Repeat, repeat, repeat – The more often your child hears the word, the easier it will be for her to understand and remember what it means. Repeat the word in many different situations, like when you’re rolling cookie dough or when your child is rolling a ball on the floor.

Help your child learn new words while baking cookies

Involve your child when making cookies by letting her stir, measure or add ingredients. Use new words, like “sift” or “sprinkle”, stressing the word as you say it. For example, “Are you ready to help me sprinkle the sugar on top?”

Then, show your child what the word means by doing the action or helping her do the action.

Next, take a moment to tell your child what the word means using simpler words. For example, “Sprinkle means to put a small amount of something on top of something else, but not cover it completely.”

Now, relate the word to your child’s experience. For example, “Remember that donut you had yesterday with the chocolate pieces sprinkled on top?”

Lastly, remember to repeat the new word in other situations. For example, if it begins to snow, you can say, “It snowed very lightly today. There is just a sprinkle of snow on the ground.”

Studies have shown that children who begin school with better awareness of the sounds they hear in words do better with early reading development. Children with strong vocabulary and language skills tend to do better in school.

Build sound awareness with winter crafts

With paper and crayons ready, ask your child to draw one thing that comes to their minds when they think of winter.

Now talk about the drawing. To build sound awareness, identify what your child drew and focus on the sound at the beginning of each word.

First, have the child Listen to the sound the first letter makes. For example, “You drew a snowflake. Listen. ‘Snowflake’ starts with the sss sound. Let’s listen for the sss sound.” To really draw the child’s attention to the sound, stretch it out. For example, ‘Sssnowflake’ starts with the sss sound.” (Remember to talk about the sound the letter makes, not the name of the letter.)

Now it’s time to Find One Like It. You draw something that begins with the same sound, point it out. For example, “Look, I drew a snowsuit! ‘Sssnowflake’ and ‘sssnowsuit’’ both start with the same sound, sss.” Keep the conversation going by asking your child if they can think of anything else that starts with the sss sound.

Give Your Child Choices

Familiar routines are perfect opportunities to cue your child to take a turn in a conversation. While bundling up to go out and play in the snow, here are some ways you can encourage your child to take a turn:

Ask choice questions – Ask you child a question that models simple choice responses. Do you want the blue sweater or the red sweater? Pause and wait for him to give an answer.

Make a comment in response to your child’s interest – For example, if your child is touching or looking at the zipper on his coat, you can help him do the zipper up and make a comment while you’re doing the action. For example, “Pull the zipper up...up...up!” Children with autism may find it easier to understand language when they can see the action associated with it.

Do something unexpected... and then wait – Children notice when things don’t happen the way they usually do, and they often have something to say about it. So, try doing something silly that he doesn’t expect. For example, after helping your child put on one of his mittens, take his boot and put it on his other hand. Then wait, without saying anything, to see what he’ll say about your silly mistake!

These suggestions are from The Hanen Centre

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