The most difficult part of answering a “wh” questions is actually knowing the meaning of the “wh” word. For instance, you have to know that “who” is asking for a person, “where” is asking for a place, “what” is asking for a thing, “when” is referring to a time, and “why” is asking for a reason. “When” and “where” may still be too complicated for this age, but it’s always good to throw it in here and there.
When talking about “who” you can stick to basic things like looking through a photo album to label family members names or you can make it harder as in “Who drives a bus?”. Visual support is always welcome at this age and can be in the form of pictures, illustrations in books, videos, etc. And remind them that “who” is asking for a person.
As for “what”, it could be as simple as asking “What is this?” while using a flashcard, reading a book, etc. This usually only encourages a one-word response since it is not open-ended. You can make it slightly more complicated by saying “What do you see?”, “What do you need?”, etc. This allows for them to use a start phrase such as “I see a duck”. You can then go onto more difficult questions such as “What does a cow say?”, “What do you wear when it’s hot?”
When referring to “where” they have to know that you are asking about a place, so we find that when you’re walking down the street, driving, etc. it is helpful to talk about where you are going. You can even talk about the immediate here and now and ask “Where are you right now?” (e.g. – at home, in the car, in the stroller, etc.). It also gradually helps them understand concepts that are not tangible such as “Where is daddy?” (e.g. – work, on a business trip, etc.) – actual pictures of daddy at his workplace would also be great!
By this time your toddler is really getting a handle of basic body parts such as eyes, nose, mouth, legs, etc. It’s a perfect time to build on that during play. For instance, you can use it while playing a game of tickling, modified Simon Says, or our favorite pretend play with a doctor kit.
A medical kit contains a ton of items such as a bandaid, stethoscope, needle, thermometer, etc. and it gives your child a chance to act out a familiar routine. If your child is labeling individual body parts, you can use the pretend play to expand to 2-3 word phrases. If you’re focused on your nose you can say “Uh Oh! Nose (is) broken!” or “Oh no! (My) nose hurts! Many children find it funny when “something goes wrong”, so the language will stand out to them!
Later on, you can expand work on more advanced body parts such as “elbow” and requesting specific items such as “shot”. It’s also a way to work on initiating questions such as “Are you okay?”, “What hurts?”, “What happened?”, etc. You can even work on commenting using temperature such as “You feel hot”. It even works on the skills of empathy and how others could be feeling. All in all, it’s a great way to expand their imagination and may even make them less scared of going to the real doctor!
Oh boy!! Have you entered the Terrible Twos yet? We have here! Yes it might be early, but we are in the depths of it. Crying, screaming, hitting, laying yourself on the ground – you name it. It’s actually a very natural phase. Although we see it as negative behavior, it is really more a phase for your toddler to use their voice, gauge their power, and see what they can get away with.
We like to think of the first step in speech and language fashion. Let’s say you see your child gradually becoming upset and you want to try to prevent it from escalating. You can start off by saying “I know you’re feeling sad Johnny took the toy from you. Why don’t we go over there and try to ask for it back? And then once you play with it for 5 minutes we can give him a turn”.
If you see the behavior getting out of control what we often like to do is to take him away from the situation to get the attention off. At this point we feel that ignoring works best (making sure they are not hurting themselves of course).
Once they calm down (it make take 5-10 or more minutes!), we always find that praising them for good behavior such as keeping their body calm, calming down, keeping their hands down, standing up, etc. is the way to go. Keep it simple while using positive language such as “Good keeping your feet down!”. This way you are reinforcing positive behavior and not negative behavior. Different techniques of course work for different children, but in our case we’ve seen the explanation of feelings in the beginning greatly diminish negative behavior. We wish you all the luck in the world! 😉
Your toddler is becoming very aware of his surroundings and people around him. You can use it as a chance to really connect with people and things by giving compliments. For instance, Roman has started complimenting our hair saying “hair nice”.
You can target things such as artwork and verbally model phrases such as “pretty picture”. If a girl is wearing a pretty dress you can model “cute dress”. If a friend is playing with a fun new toy you can say “cool new truck”. This now only will make others feel happy, but will also make your toddler start thinking about the power of their words.
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone or something that someone has made or has. It could be things that you see in nature. Let’s say you’re taking a walk you can talk about a tree by saying “Wow that’s a beautiful tall tree!”. There are tons of possibilities, so go ahead and make someone’s day!
It’s never too early to start learning about chores and how to help out in the house!Now that your child is getting better at following directions feel free to intertwine basic “chores” into the daily routine.
It could be as simple as cleaning up. From an early age we started the clean up song even when he did not speak just so he got used to the melody and words. At this point you can sing it along with them and see if they hum along or imitate any of the words. Just hearing the song will trigger cleaning up after playtime or even mealtime. Once they get used to the routine they will begin cleaning up on their own, sometimes even singing the song all by themselves!
Specific directions you can give is “Give me your cup/plate/fork and let’s put it in the sink” (they most likely cannot reach yet even with a step stool, but it’s good to practice), “Put your ____ in the dishwasher”, “Throw it in the garbage”, “Go get me a paper towel”, “Put your socks away” (or any clothing), “Walk the dog”, etc. We even found working on colors while doing laundry is an excellent receptive language task (e.g. – dark vs. light or putting all the red socks together).
The world is an exciting place and it comes with lots of feelings for little ones (and adults), so we have to make sure we give them a voice to talk about how they feel. For instance, my son is starting to get the concept of “scary” if it’s a ghost, lion, etc. and he will comment saying phrases such as “ghost scary”.
We recommend starting off with basic feelings such as happy vs. sad. You can practice smiling and frowning in front of the mirror and labeling the feelings with one word. We also started by looking at pictures of babies in Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Feelings book and our Baby Feeling ibook since they are clear depictions of happy vs. sad. We also talked about feelings while watching videos or television shows to make screen time an interactive experience.
You can also talk about feelings as they happen since this is the prime age for tantrums! For instance, if someone took their toy away you can label the feeling with a sentence such as “I know that makes you feel SAD”. As they get the hang of it, you can add more complicated feelings in such as excited, scary, surprised, etc. They love imitating your facial expressions and even pretending! For instance, you can do role-play with dinosaurs and pretend to hide under a blanket or pillows to pretend to be very scared! Targeting feelings through story time and art are also fantastic ways to go over feelings and using that starter phrase “I feel ____”, “She feels ____”, “He feels ____”, “They feel ____”, etc. Have a HAPPY day! ☺
Now that your toddler is crawling and walking all about this is the best time to try a few unique experiences with them. Before you head out, think of some target words that you want them to learn throughout the experience. For instance, if you are going to a farm you can name farm animals, the food that is in season, actions that the animals are doing, novel words such as wagon or flowers, etc. Here are a few fun places we think encourage the most language… they might not be new to us, but for them it’s very exciting! Let your kids explore and go wild – of course without getting into any trouble!
– Amusement Park
– Fire Station
– Post Office
– Toy Store
As you know our children are big time sponges! They try to do everything we do, imitate actions of items, etc. Our motto is let them be little and use their imagination. You don’t always need toys for imaginative play – you can use your own body! With this increased pretend play will come more sound effects, language, and more! Here are some beginning actions you can encourage your child to imitate:
– Spreading both arms out and flying like a plane
– Making a “wheel” with both hands and pretending to drive
– Making an L with your arm and going “choo choo” around the room
– Putting your head on a pillow and pretending to sleep while snoring
– Putting your fist up to your ear and pretending it’s a phone
– Bending down and jumping around like a frog
– Spinning around like a wheel
– Blowing on “hot food” Making a “cup” with your hand and pretending to drink
– Making a pincer grasp with your finger and pretending to eat food off the table
Many children like Roman are very responsive to the beats of music! We always encourage parents to use music as a means to teach language. It is always wise to take something that is already motivating to teach a skill that is new. There are many ways you can use music to do this… check them out below!
Turn up the Music – Carve out a certain time of day where you turn the music… you can even use a good old-fashioned radio (we know how obsessed kids are with technology these days so it’s a good way to avoid smart phones or tablets). Whether it be morning, noon, or night have a dance party – it lets them create their own moves and get out a ton of energy! Let their imagination run wild!
Use Dancing to work on Imitation – During your dance parties or the classes you attend, dancing is the perfect opportunity to imitate motor actions. Imitation is the basis for speech! For example, you can target raising shoulders, clapping hands, raising arms, spinning, raising the roof, and much more.
Using Consistent Music – We of course recommend exposing your child to new music, but there is a huge benefit in playing the same songs! This way your child really gets to know the rhythm and lyrics… it becomes ingrained in them. The more they hear the same song the more likely they will begin singing along. For example, after a hundred times of singing “The Wheels on the Bus” your child may finally imitate or approximate “round and round”.
Create your own songs – If there is a melody that your child is familiar with you can replace the words/lyrics and sing your own song. We often use familiar songs such as “Wheels on the Bus”, “Twinkle Twinkle”, etc. For instance, we may say “The wheels on the car go round and round”. The kids recognize the melody and are more likely to join in and sing a duet!