4 Ways to Build Your Child's Language Skills at Home
Students with expressive/receptive language disorders face a number of challenges in school. It is estimated that 1 in 20 students have some type of language disorder. These students are often working overtime to cope with their challenges and their struggle can go undetected or be misunderstood.
Language skills are at the heart of early literacy development and a key component to your child’s success in school. Receptive language refers to the ability to understand information. It includes understanding the words, sentences and meaning of what others say or what is read. This involves gaining information and meaning from routine (you have finished your shower, now it is time to brush your teeth) and visual information (if mom has her keys and purse and is waiting at the door, it signals it is time to get in the car). Expressive language means being able to put thoughts into words and sentences, in a way that makes sense and is grammatically accurate. This is how we express ourselves!
A developmental language disorder is much more common in young children. Children will usually begin to show problems with receptive and expressive language skills before the age of 4. Kids with developmental language disorders often start speaking later than their peers. However, this delay is not related to their intelligence level. In fact, kids with developmental language disorders typically have average or above-average intelligence.
4 Ways to build your child's language skills at home
Language disorders can make it difficult for kids to understand what people are saying to them and to express their own thoughts and feelings through talking. They can also affect how kids learn and socialize. If you’re concerned your child has a language disorder, you’re not alone. They’re surprisingly common childhood conditions and there are many ways to treat them. Here are some ways to build these language skills at home:
- Communicate with your child as much as you can. During the early childhood years, sing and play a lot of music. Talk about what you see when you’re driving in the car or at the supermarket. Listen to your child! Give your them plenty of time to respond and resist the temptation to jump in and fill the silence.
- Make reading an interactive experience. Discuss the book’s pictures and talk about what is happening.
- Model the desired behavior for your chicl. When they answer a question with a one-word sentence, you can respond by modeling back with a full, correct sentence, so that the child hears the words in correct order.
- Give choices. Instead of asking your child open-ended questions, you can ask either-or questions, so they has to choose the correct answer.
Receptive language is important in order to communicate successfully. Children who have difficulties understanding may find it hard to follow instructions at home or at school and may not respond correctly to questions and requests. At school, trouble understanding what people are saying may lead to attention and listening difficulties and/or behavioral issues. Because most activities require a good understanding of language, it may make it difficult for a child to understand their school work or to participate in the activities and academic tasks required for their year level of school.
It’s important to note that a language disorder is not the same as a hearing issue or a speech disorder. Children with language disorders typically have no trouble hearing or pronouncing words. Their challenge is mastering and applying the rules of language, like grammar. They aren’t simply “late talkers.” Without treatment, their communication problems will continue and may lead to emotional issues and academic struggles.
If you notice any of these traits, speak with your child’s teacher. The school will have a speech-language pathologist who may be able to do a screening or asses your child in order to help you get answers and determine a plan of action.