Top Tips by OMO on How to Interact with Your Child
Having difficulty engaging with your child and encouraging their development? Here's some advice.
Engaging with your child in this day and age where technology trumps everything can pose as quite a challenge.
Sure, in a world where everyone's tuned in to what's on the screen in front of them, it can be difficult to encourage your little ones to embrace the outside world.
While screen time is fine in limited amounts, it's important as parents to ensure children get enough exposure to other experiences, the elements and social circumstances that can really help with their development.
Top Tips on Interacting with Children
To help you out, the team at OMO have shared their top tips on how you can maximise bonding with your children... Away from the screens.
1. Get down to your child’s level
Being face to face with your child will help foster better communication, you can see the things they are interested in, and it allows them to communicate better with you.
Whether it’s a dusty gummy bear they’ve found under the sofa or a tiny ant they can see crawling on their shoe, being down at your child’s physical level allows you to enter their world, engage and communicate.
2. Comment on what your child is doing
Comment on what your child is doing throughout the day, whilst they are playing, eating or having bath. Use these opportunities to model language so they can hear and learn new words; keep your comments short and simple and remember that some silence is ok too.
With older children you can get them involved in activities such as grocery shopping or cooking and encourage conversation by talking about what you are both doing. Get talking, and use every opportunity as a language learning opportunity.
3. Pretend Play
Encouraging your child to engage in pretend play is a great way to help build their language skills. An example of this is providing your child with miniature realistic toys such as food items, plates and cups.
Follow their lead in play and model simple actions e.g. pouring “tea” into a cup, or giving teddy something to drink. Puppets, miniature toy people, vehicles and animals are also things you can give and use with your child.
4. Use gesture to support your spoken language
Gesture is a great way to help your child understand what you’re saying, if you’re telling your child to get there hat, point to their hat or if you’re asking him/her to wash their hands, pretend to wash your hands whilst giving the instruction.
Modelling the use of gestures will also help provide your child with a way to communicate with you before they are able to use the words that represent them, so don’t forget to get those hands moving!
5. Limit screen time
Even if programs or applications are educational, children learn and develop language best through interaction; the TV or tablet does not respond or interact with your child.
The American Academy of Paediatrics advises that children under 2 years are kept away from screens with children between the ages of 2-5 years being limited to an hour a day of quality screen time. It’s time to switch off those devices and get talking!
6. Extend on what your child is saying
Add to what your child has said and provide more adult like models of language, for example, if they say ‘green’ you can say ‘Yes, it’s a green car’ or if they say ‘big doggie’ you can say “Yes, it’s a big fluffy doggie”. Repeating and extending on what your child has said not only helps develop their understanding and use of new vocabulary and concepts, it also shows him/her that you have heard and are interested in what they have said.
Keep it natural and avoid over-using this technique as it can disrupt the natural flow of conversation.
7. Read, read and read some more
Reading with your child is a fantastic way to develop their language skills, whatever their age. Whether it’s a tiny tot or temperamental teen, reading will develop their vocabulary, fuel their imagination and nurture their literacy skills.
Don’t worry about finishing a book from cover to cover, feel free to stop at pages that your child is interested in and talk about the different things they can see; with older children you can talk about the characters in the story and try to predict what’s going to happen next. So grab a book, follow your child’s lead and get lost in those pages.
8. Play with words
Playing with words is a great way to develop your child’s phonological awareness skills, which is one of the key components for developing literacy skills. You can help nurture this skill during daily routines by; identifying words that begin with the same sound e.g. ‘Bubble’ and ‘bath’, both start with ‘buh’ (make sure you always emphasise the sound the letter makes); rhyming words e.g. ‘cat’ rhymes with ‘mat’ or clapping the syllables of a word e.g. ‘di-no-saur’.
Have fun and making playing with words your child’s new favourite game.
9. Go on trips
Take a trip to the park, beach or zoo and talk about all the different things you can see, hear, smell and feel. Excite those senses, let loose and don’t worry about getting dirty!
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