Tips to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary
Many of us spend a lot of time on the move with our little ones, whether sitting in traffic or commuting to work, daycare, audiology appointments, speech therapy sessions, or other activities.Some families spend as much as two-to-three hours in the car, or on the bus or train a day! With a little practice and intention, you can use the moments before, during and after your travel routines as opportunities to build language. Here are a few ideas to enrich your travel-time language routine:
Before you go:
- We’re going on an adventure! Before you go, tell your child where you’re going and list three or more memorable landmarks you’ll see on the way or once you arrive there.
- Bring a laminated mini-experience book for your child to explore or talk about during the drive (your experience book could include pictures vehicles, animals, landmarks, signs or stores).
- Include siblings! Plan with everyone what you’ll do on your outing. Give older siblings a “job” to point out all the animals or vehicles seen on the way.
In the car/on your outing:
- Sing songs! Have a familiar song inventory that you use at home and in the car (vehicle songs may include: “The Wheels on the Bus,” the airplane song, driving in our car). Make it easier for your child to sing along by practicing auditory closure for your child to fill in the blanks with keywords or phrases “The Wheels on the Bus go ___ ___ ___”).
- What’s that sound? Point out audible sounds and name them. “Listen! I hear a _____.” (motorcycles, sirens, beeps and construction tools/vehicles).
- I see a______! Talk about favorite signs, billboards and landmarks using several descriptive words (tall, skinny, huge or long).
- Red means STOP! Green means GO! Describe what traffic signs and signals mean.
- Link life with learning to listen sounds (“There is a bus! Bu bu bu. There goes the school bus. It’s a yellow bus.”) You could use the “auditory sandwich.”
When you get home:
If you see something new or exciting, relate it to other aspects of your child’s life when you get home. For example, if you got behind a school bus dropping kids off, look at your bus book that evening and talk about what you saw earlier that day.
Every second of listening counts, so make sure you are taking advantage of language opportunities while on the move with your child. Travel time presents new vocabulary and language you don’t use at home. Learn how to think about and use language in your travel routines. See the Hearing First LSL Day by Day: Travel Talk handout to help you start your trip.