Let's Talk


Building Language Moments Out & About

How can you help your Child's Talking Skills when you are out & about?

It's easy.  Just take a simple MOMENT in your action packed outing!

Speech TherapistDr Sandra McMahon PhD

​Do you want to make sure you are giving your babies and toddlers the best chance to have later academic success? Do you want them to have social confidence so they can build friendships?  How and what we say to our children in the early years has been shown to have a major impact in the school years. Researchers call this “parentese” – the speech of parents. It is key to language development.

The key is to talk to children from birth. Is some talk better than other talk though? Do some parent’s do it better than others?

Adult-Child Language Needs to Match

“Your talk” ideally should closely match your child’s understanding and talking levels. A mis-match can result in reducing the effectiveness of you attempt to boost language in the everyday learning opportunities that arise for your child. How complex your sentences and words are and your child’s current language skills need to grow together.  

You can use everyday routines to provide the optimum language examples for your child. This will provide them with the best learning foundations that will impact on their development for many years to come. 

SO let's take a single moment in applying sunscreen 

When we go OUT and ABOUT with our children we often have a few routines that we do every time (or nearly every time). In Australia putting on SUNSCREEN every time children are going outside is essential and highly recommended by health authorities. 

SO lets take a SINGLE MOMENT in the applying sunscreen routine and turn it into a LANGUAGE BOOSTING MOMENT. In that same moment within the same routine have a script in mind to say the same thing EVERY TIME you reach that moment. Matching the moment in the routine with the same words. This  is how childrens talking skills explode!

So Let's make it simple and easy!

We are not suggesting taking the whole sun screening routine and scripting your every word. A lot of the time we are trying to just get that sunscreen on before they take of running down the beach, jumping in the pool or running off to the swing.

The key is to take just a MOMENT in the routine. We have taken the MOMENT we put sunscreen on their noses as an example! Well sunscreen on noses is a priority right!

Take a look at our downloadable script ideas for children no matter what level of language they are currently using.

1.  Those children just making noises and perhaps copying actions and sounds

2.  Children with a few words but need more words in their spoken vocabulary

3.  Those with lots of words but need encouragement to build their words into sentences and more complex expression of ideas.

Pick one or two key words e.g., nose or rub and use just the right level of words for your child at the precise moment of putting the sunscreen on! We use these key words nose and/or rub EVERY TIME. 

Parents or carers might use just the single word if the child is not using any words yet (e.g., rub, rub on, rub on the sunscreen RUB!).

If our toddlers are using some words or little phrases (e.g., rub on) already we could use a longer sentence with grammatical changes (e.g., rubBING on the sunscreen or All done! We rubBED it on What did we do? We R……). If you do the routine and the matching words frequently enough, the children can finish your sentences! They are then practising their talking skills!

How to make these moments work!

To make these moments work, Your talk needs to closely match your childs understanding and talking levels. Remember that how and what we say to our children in the early years has been shown to have a major impact in later academic success and social confidence.  A mis-match can result in reducing the value of the everyday learning opportunities for your child. Matching how complex your sentences and words are and your childs current communication skills really is the crucial idea to make these language moments have amazing results.  

Have you really listened to your self when you are talking to your children? Are you SURE you are using the most effective parentese for your child?  Your talk as a parent needs to continually stay in sync with your child to give them the best opportunity to succeed and prevent behaviours of frustration. 

We understand that parents are busy but by thinking about what you are saying in a single MOMENT can help to give your babies and toddlers the best chance to have all the skills needed for "formal" schooling success and give them confidence to interact with their peers.

This idea of matching your language to your childs speech development level is So important it is the First STEPS in our FOCUS on TODDLER TALK Online Program. The program guides you in how to find out what level your childs current communication skills are at and to see if the speech you are using in your everyday talk is at the right level!  

The program demonstrates how to make changes  to your talk as your childs understanding, speech and language grows. This not about changing your individuality as a parent. It is about finding the best way for YOU to match your speech to YOUR child. 

Putting sunscreen on noses is a great example of a moment in time when we are OUT & ABOUT!  You can also take a look at this tooth brushing language moment blog for ideas of scripts for the MOMENT we put toothpaste onto the brush. 

Sandra McMahon

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