Tuesday, 28 June 2011


When toddler's are learning to talk, it's important to encourage this skill.  As parents, we are so good at guessing what our toddlers want that often they have to do very little to get their needs met.  But when it comes to encouraging language development, waiting for communication is very important.  When you wait for communication from your toddler, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you'll hear.  Teach your child that you have an expectation that they use the words they know to ask for things, instead of getting away with a look or a point.  Also, model new and important words for your child so that they are constantly learning words that go with activities and experiences in their life.  Then of course, be sure to wait to see if your child will imitate these new words.

It's never too late to change the dynamic between you and your toddler.  There may be some confusion when you all the sudden stop responding to every point and gesture from your child and instead start modelling the words you want them to say, but waiting with a look of expectation on your face will eventually help them learn to start saying words to get their wants and needs met. 

If your child is having an especially difficult time learning to imitate you between 12 and 18 months, consider seeking out a Speech-Language Pathologist for more support.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Cook together!

Can you find a way to involve your toddler in snack or meal preparation?  Not only is this a great one-on-one activity, but it's also a fun and interactive way to introduce a variety of language concepts to your toddler. 

My daugher and I made pancakes together yesterday morning.  I'd fill up measuring cups and spoons with ingredients and she'd dump them into the bowl for me.  Then I gave her a spoon of her own so that we could both mix the batter together.  We talked about the wet ingredients, the dry ingredients and the sequence of steps to make pancakes. with the best step (eating them) being the last.

Here are a few ways to add rich language into this fun activity:
  • Use sequence words like first and last.
  • Describe the steps in simple language (eg. 'mix it', 'dump the flour') using lots of action words
  • Talk about any mess your child (or you) makes and about cleaning it up.
  • Describe the food using size words, color words, numbers and comparison words like same and different
There are lots of great sources for kid-friendly recipes.  Here is one great site I found http://www.childrensrecipes.com/

An added perk - cooking with your child has the advantage of encouraging more interest in the foods you're eating!


Monday, 6 June 2011

Book-sharing with toddlers

There are some very big differences between reading a book to your toddler and "sharing" a book with your toddler.  Instead of spending time reading the text, which is often too complicated for your child to understand, make the experience an interactive one.  Talk about the pictures and what you see happening in the story, use  funny voices for characters and funny expressions and sound effects to keep your child's attention.  Make sure that your child has the opportunity to take turns and interact as well, by pointing, imitating your sounds and words and even just laughing at you being silly! 

As your toddler gets older, they may become more interested in hearing the story, and there are certainly some stories that are great to read to your toddler, but always be sure that you stay focused on sharing the experience with your child, and not just reading the story without their involvement.

Here are a few of my favorite books for toddlers:
  • Mortimer by Robert Munsch - look for the simplified board book version for preschoolers.  This story has some great natural sound effects built into as well as a catchy song.
  • Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton - a cute story with lots of opportunity to talk about farm animals and make sounds.
  • Hand Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins - this is a fun read with fun actions to go along with the rhyme. 
  • DK Publishing Touch and Feel books - these books come in a variety of themes (animals, play time, shapes etc.) and are great for getting toddlers interested in books and talking about concepts like soft, bumpy etc.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Piece by Piece Puzzles

Puzzles are another great language activity to do with toddler's.  My favorite's are made by Melissa & Doug, check them out at http://www.melissaanddoug.com/.  Melissa & Doug make colorful wooden puzzles that range from easy 3-piece to difficult multi-piece puzzles and they come in common themes like barn animals, shapes and transportation (these three are lying on my living room floor right now!).  Melissa & Doug products are available from a wide range of stores, but a Canadian online store that I'm loving right now is http://www.cooltoysfortots.ca/

Puzzles are great for introducing common vocabulary to your toddler, they're also great for teaching concepts like 'in' and 'out'.  Become the keeper of the pieces so that your toddler has to interact with you to get each piece and be sure to take a few turns yourself to model the words and concepts.  Aside from their communication benefits, puzzles are great for developing fine motor skills as well!