Parents of young children who are not yet talking often wonder how to help their little ones become better communicators. Simply playing with your child on his or her level can be a powerful language-learning tool. Here are some activities you can try at home to help encourage your child’s language skills before he or she is able to talk.
For young children who are not yet talking, choose activities that build anticipation in your child and turn them into a predictable routine. Examples include games that require both you and your child to take turns together during play, such as peek-a-boo, tickle games, repetitive songs with actions, or bubbles.
Repeat the activity over and over in the exact same way until your child anticipates what to expect. Then the next time around, pause and wait expectantly for your child to participate. Participating could be looking at you, wiggling his body, making a sound, or gesturing to indicate he wants the activity to continue. You can then interpret his actions and model the words for him using simple language.
These activities can help your child learn when to take a turn when interacting with you. These kinds of interactions are great for building shared attention to an activity, also known as joint attention, which is an important stepping stone in learning to talk.