How to Talk to Your Child
From 3 to 6 Years
Over the next several years, your child will improve his articulation skills so that he will become more understandable not only with you but with everyone he talks to.
Continue to explain and describe what you see, what you are doing and why.
Your child will begin to ask interesting questions, especially why. Explain as best you can. If you don't know the answer to something, look it up. Let him sit on your lap while you find the answer on the internet. Look it up in the dictionary.
Show him that you can find words in a book. Read some of the words to him. He may not understand, so simplify it so he can comprehend.
Sometime between three and four years of age some children make a vague association between spoken and written language.
It's just as important to create a literacy-rich environment as it is a language rich environment for your child.
Here's another example, brushing teeth, which incorporates spatial prepositions, verbs, and questioning:
Toddler: Uh-oh, fall down. Get it.
Dad: Is the cap behind the toilet? Toddler: Oh no. I don't see cap.
Dad: There it is, under the sink. It's not in the sink, it's under the sink. Toddler: Daddy you get it.
Dad: I reach way under the sink. Got it! Let's put it on the tube. Twist, twist. The cap fell under the sink, but I found it! I put it back on the tube.
As your child's ability to articulate sounds improves, his speech will become more intelligible. His language skills - semantics (meaning of words and sentences), syntax (grammar) and pragmatic aspects (social use of the language) - also become more sophisticated.
Mistakes will be made. He's testing the rules of the language that he's learned so far. He'll learn when to put an ~s onto words when there's more than one, he'll add ~ing to verbs.
When he says drinked he's figured out the past tense rule - adding an ~ed to the action word signifying that the action has already happened. Hearing the correct word in the right context, drank, will allow him to adjust that rule so that he will eventually use the irregular past tense form correctly.
He will do this for many of the other rules in the language.
Demonstrate the correct form of words in sentences. Let your child hear how the word is used correctly. Remember that modeling is the best way for your child to learn the rules - it is not necessary for your child to repeat the correct form after you.
Articulation will not be perfect until late toddlerhood or even first grade. By four years of age however he will be understood by just about everyone.
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