Nurturing your child’s language skills is critical. Having your child be comfortable and confident expressing themselves verbally is something that all parents strive for. This of course will not happen overnight and needs to be deliberately encouraged and nurtured. It also doubles as an incredible way to become closer to your children. Here are ten fun ways to nurture your child’s language skills.
Do you really know your child’s likes or dislikes? You probably know their food aversions, favourite colours, books, games, and TV shows, but what about some of the things you’re less involved in. What about their favourite Minecraft world? Their favourite instrument to play during music class? Their favourite friend at an after-school activity. Use these activities as conversation starters. Allow them to lead the conversation, asking deeper and genuine questions. Remember it’s a conversation, not an interrogation.
In the same vein, what are their habits? What do they enjoy talking about? If you don’t know, then it’s time to get to know them a little better. Listen to their answers to understand, not to respond. Ask them to tell you when they enjoy something or when it matters to them. Do they enjoy going to the park? What sports do they like playing? What books do they like reading? Do they like going outside to play or do they prefer indoor games?
If we don’t focus on what our children love and have an interest in, they won’t be as likely to open up about what they love. In the future, this could result in your child being afraid to tell you what they’re passionate about. Always be interested in their interests. This will create a deeper connection between you and your child.
Is Your Child an Introvert?
Sometimes, the world can be a scary place for introverted children. We live in an extroverted society so it may take some time for our kids to adapt. Always reassure your child that you love them no matter who they are. If they are quiet, that’s okay. There’s no pressure for them to be the class clown or the loudest person in the room.
Encourage your child to speak up by starting slow at home. Ask them about their thoughts and feelings. As they grow, they will become more comfortable in places with many people, special occasions or work-related challenges. Tell your child that they are doing a great job as listeners, observers and hard workers. After all, that’s what’s special about introverts!
Cozy time is one of the best ways you and your child become closer. Take about 25 minutes before their bedtime to snuggle up to them. Without screens, get comfortable and cozy. Talk to them about their day and ask them to explain the activities they did or the people they met. This quiet time is a special way for your child to open up to you about many topics. Even topics they may be too shy to talk about in front of others. A great opening question is “what was the best part of your day?” This prompts good memories and often opens the door for discussions about what didn’t go so well.
Keep in mind, school or playing with friends and siblings may tire your child out. Don’t pressure them to continue a conversation or talk about something they aren’t ready to. Patience is key, but ensure you always carve out some time for them to express themselves if they’d like.
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A Question Jar
Question jars are a great way to start an interesting conversation with your kids. Not only can you learn from them, but they can learn from you too. Each night, write out different questions on post-it notes. Over the next week, pick them out of the jar to have an open discussion around the questions or topics you’ve written. This activity builds a trusted environment with your children. By nurturing them into feeling comfortable about sharing their thoughts, feelings and dreams. This is also an excellent way for you the parent to introduce certain topics into the conversation.
Bake A Cake
Grab your cake mix and icing sugar! Get your child excited about learning new recipes by offering them cookbooks from the library or a parent-led Pinterest search. Ask them questions while you bake. What ingredients do we add next? What is your favourite flavour or ask what else they would like to bake? Even if neither of you is a great baker, that’s ok – the focus is on the time together, which helps foster a closer relationship which encourages deeper conversation. You can bond over burned bundt just as successfully as a perfect pie.
Painting is such a great way to learn a new craft, educate your child, and connect with each other. Ask them what colours they need to mix together to get purple or turquoise. Ask them if they have a favourite technique: hands or paintbrush? Get creative with your art and tell each other what to paint next to create a wild jungle or come up with a new animal. Make it fun and relaxed! If you really find your painting groove, often topics completely unrelated to art will come up naturally. You may find your child opening up more about their thoughts, questions, hopes, and dreams while they’re painting.
Storytime! Snuggle up with each other to read adventurous books. As you read, ask your child simple questions. Are they understanding the story? What will happen next? Which character is your favourite so far? What do you think the ending will be? What do you think should happen next? What do you think about the way the character reacted? Would you like to be friends with the character? Would you like to live in the place where the story takes place?…
This is a fun game where you can invite the whole family to play. Sit in a circle. Have one person begin a story by saying one sentence and then have the person beside them continue the story with a different sentence. Continue going around the circle until the story is complete! This activity is a great way to get creative with your children, ask questions and uncover what broad imagination they have. It works just as well with two people as with twenty – so get the whole family involved or make it a 1 on 1 activity.
Watch A Movie
This is almost the same as reading a book but ask your child questions about the movie you both watched. Did you expect that character to do that? Did you think it was going to end that way? What was your favourite part of the movie?
Treasure Hunt in the Yard
Another fun activity to get your child speaking up is to pretend you are trying to find hidden treasure in your backyard. Think outside of the box; Write notes and clues, placing them everywhere in the house to get them thinking aloud. Spend some time hunting with them with a special reward at the end.
The objective of getting your child talking more is to get to know them better and build trust. This takes time, patience and consistent effort like every other meaningful relationship. If one angle doesn’t work, try another! It’s always worth the effort to have your child become more verbally adept and more likely to come to you with what’s on their mind and happening in their life. This foundation is so important as your child grows older.