Saturday, 18 February 2012

How do I talk to my 2 year old?

As you may know we run classes for two year olds called Teeny Talkers and I keep being asked what parents can do to help at home. Here is lots of communication advice for your two year old from our esteemed colleagues at Talking Matters:

Two year olds are active and sociable and “into everything”. From around two years children go through a period of rapid growth in their communication skills, developing from a toddler experimenting with combining words to a three year old who can use sentences and hold simple conversations. Children who communicate better, interact better with others and manage their emotions and behaviour more effectively, so there are pay offs in the long run for helping your child develop good skills now. Here are some ideas to develop your child’s communication skills.

Two year olds should be using at least 50 single words and putting short phrases of two or three words together. Their speech should include a range of different speech sounds though they may not use them correctly in all words. Not everything that they say may be clear and they may still use some babble when trying to express themselves but familiar people should understand much of what they say.

By two and a half years children can understand:
 what things are used for (what goes on your feet?)
 simple concepts such as big/little, hot/cold, in/out
 the difference between “he” and “she”
 follow simple instructions “find your shoes”
By two and a half years children can say:
 many single words and two word combinations
 some describing words “big”, “hot”
 ask some simple questions “what’s that?” ”where’s Dad?”
 use words for possession “mine, my teddy, daddy’s shoe”
 use plurals “two dogs”
answer yes/no, what and where questions.

To help your child develop word combinations:
1. Build a solid base of single words. Children usually need around 50 single words before they begin this stage. Even after they begin to use two words they will need to continue to learn more single words to continue to develop their language skills. It is usually easier to learn a new word as a single word at this stage e.g. “zebra” then later combine it “baby zebra” “zebra eating” etc.
2. Develop a variety of word types. Children begin by learning lots of names of people and things. To develop two word combinations they often need to combine these nouns with a different type of word such as an action word or a descriptive word. Action words are particularly important as they form the basis of sentences later on.

Help your child learn a range of different words including:
 action words: eat, sleep, jump, dance, run;
 describing words: big, funny, sad, hot, wet;
 position words; up, in, under,
 possessive words: mine, yours,

3. Expand the single words your child does say by adding another word. Try to repeat it a couple of times if you can.
Sometimes you might add another word you know they can say e.g. Child “bye” Adult “bye Dad, Dad’s go-ing shopping, bye Dad”. Sometimes you might add a new word. Child “more” Adult “toast, more toast, you like the toast, more toast.”
Your child does not need to copy you, just hearing what you say will help and they will use that phrase when they are ready. If they do try to copy you though, respond positively. If what they say is not clear still be positive and say it again clearly for them. E.g. child “more toat” Adult “yes more toast”.

Practice games and activities where you can repeat word combinations over and over a number of times.
Activities could include;
 Bath time: wash + body part “wash face, wash arms, wash tummy”
 Mealtime: eat + food name “eat peas, eat carrots, eat meat”
 Dressing: clothing name + on “shirt on, pants on, socks on, hat on”
 Ball play: action + ball “roll ball, push ball, kick ball, catch ball”
 Car play: car + action/position “ car go, car stop, car up, car in, car down”
 Block play "build up, more blocks, fall down"
 Outside play "Alex + run/jump/climb/slide" "Alex under/over/in/out/through"
 Hiding dolls or animals and finding them “hello teddy, goodbye puppy”
 Matching games “Two apples, more dog”
When your child does produce two words together all by themselves expand them to three words to keep them learning.

We'll look at some more ideas next time

Talking Matters offices are located at the Elizabeth East Shopping Centre, 53 Midway Road, Elizabeth East.  They also have an office in Kapunda for families in the Barossa/Mid North area.