How to teach preschoolers and toddlers to speak well

Filed in Literacy Play


Effective communication is one of the most important life skills anyone can have. There are many people who have excellent academic qualifications but if they have not learnt how to express themselves in a creative and interesting way, will lose out in many ways to others who do not equal their academic qualifications but have learnt how to communicate effectively through spoken language and how to co-operate and build positive interpersonal relationships with others.

Parents can provide opportunities for their preschoolers and toddlers to become effective communicators when they understand the different types of oral communication. Listening and speaking are the basis for language development and are as important as completing their written activities or perfecting neat handwriting.

  1. Provide an environment to encourage them to express themselves.
    Effective communication is when parents learn how to allow their children to express their own thoughts and ideas freely. Have a warm and supportive home environment where they can learn to express themselves without the fear of criticism or judgment. Help them understand that making mistakes is a necessary and an expected part of learning.
  2. Set aside some time to listen to your preschoolers and toddlers.
    Listen empathically by encouraging them to explain and defend their viewpoints while at the same time listening to yours. Parents should try not to interrupt while they are speaking or finish off their sentences for them. Be patient with them as they might take a little longer to express their thoughts as they are still learning to put them into words and interrupting them will not help but will impede fluency and make them less confident.
  3. Parents can forge close bonding with them by reading their favorite story books or watching movies together.  Encourage them to express their own thoughts, feelings or viewpoints on the characters in the stories or movies by asking them open-ended questions. Show them that you value their individual differences of thought and opinion and encourage them to be original and creative in self-expression.
  4. Organize activities for your preschoolers and toddlers that will invite them to explore and manipulate ideas and think “out of the box”.
    Have gardening, drawing or cooking activities together to provide them interesting life experiences as this can help to broaden their vocabulary and the more diverse these experiences are, the wider their vocabulary will become for them to be able to express themselves accurately and succinctly.
  5. Encourage them to describe things accurately.
    When they answer your question with an “okay’ or “all right”, ask them what they mean by that. Do they mean “funny’, “entertaining” or “interesting”? Using precise words is important for accurate and unambiguous communication.
  6. Develop strong reporting skills by allowing your preschoolers and toddlers to tell you about their present and past experiences. Encourage them to reflect on these experiences by asking them to describe how they felt or how would they have reacted if it happens again and compare them with other experiences they have had.
  7. Reasoning skill is another important oral skill for them to inculcate. Training them on how to explain processes, articulate problems and suggesting solutions and opinions can kick-start their creative thinking to come up with a whole range of brilliant and imaginative ideas. Using their imagination is one way of thinking that leads to having great ideas.

Preschoolers and toddlers need time, opportunity and encouragement to develop these life skills and they learn best by ‘having a go” when they have nothing to fear or be anxious about and all their intelligence and creativity is employed to the full. This is the natural way to learn.

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Tags: brain teasers for kids, preschool worksheets, preschoolers and toddlers

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