Supporting children’s language development when going for a walk

Going for a walk outside is a great way to break up the day for children. It helps their cognitive and language development as there is lots to see, do and talk about—and it’s fun! Here are some simple strategies to stimulate language during a walk.

Model language

When your child is starting to speak, try to keep sentences short. This gives them the best chance of understanding what you’ve said and copying some of the words you’ve used. Examples include:

  • Car
  • Look, car
  • Car goes vroom
  • Two cars

Expand on words

Repeat what your child says and add one more word. This lets them know that you have heard them, are interested in what they’ve said and gives them a chance to hear the correct pronunciation. By adding an extra word, it shows your child how they can expand their communication next time. For example:

Child: Tree

Adult: Big tree

Child: Grass

Adult: Green grass

Child: Go walk

Adult: Let’s go for a walk

Follow the child’s interest

As parents and adults, we’re often busy and want children to hurry up and operate to our schedule. It’s important to remember that children are constantly learning. They’ll often stop to look at things that we don’t even notice, such as rocks, sticks, ants and leaves.

When possible, try and follow your child’s interest and join in. Get down to their level and look at what they’re observing, so they can see that you’re interested too. By engaging in your child’s interests, they’re more likely to be motivated to communicate.

These strategies can also be used for daily routines, such as bath time and mealtimes, as well as play activities with trains, playdough or bubbles, to develop your child’s language skills. Have fun!

This blog post was edited from Lisa Ey’s’s blog. Lisa is a Speech Pathologist at Plumtree.

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