Mealtimes can be an excellent learning experience for children. They can learn to sit still, take turns and listen to others as well as talk about their day.
Try and eat together as often as you can. Turn off the TV make mealtimes a phone and tablet free zone.
Encourage your child to eat foods with lots of different textures. Include foods that have crunch and need chewing- like fruit and vegetables – this helps exercise their facial muscles.
By now your child should be drinking from an ordinary cup – not a beaker or a bottle – this is important because;
• It develops muscles and movement in the face, mouth and soft palate needed for clear speech and language development.
• They learn to ‘sip’ not just ‘suck’.
• An open cup is better for their teeth and gums too
It can be messy to begin with - keep going - your child will quickly learn how to drink from and put down their cup without spilling. These are important motor skills.
Try offering plain water and small amounts until they get the hang of it.
Some children may have struggled to get rid of their dummy / bottle at a year of age as recommended – if your child is still using dummies or bottles it is important to help them stop using them now. This will help them develop clear speech. It will also help keep teeth and gums healthy. There are some tips on how you might do this *here*
Play is how children learn – time spent playing with your child will improve their speech and communication skills, continue to build the bond they have with you and improve their confidence and self esteem.
In the pre-school years children love to pretend and imagine when they play – spend time with them and follow their lead – they might want to pretend they are people they are people they see everyday – like Mummies and Daddies, or Nursery teachers. They might want to be monsters or animals. Use the time to grow the words they know and use. For example when they say ‘I am a monster’ you can say ‘ You are a huge, scary monster’
Storytime is good for your child it helps with speech and builds concentration Look at books together – read the words or talk about what you can see – children often like to look at the same book over and over. They like the repetition and learn language effectively this way.
Try a trip to the library and let them choose to introduce a little variety. Don’t be surprised when they return to their old favourite! (Find your local library *here*)
Singing with your child helps them understand the rhythm of words, helps with memory. It releases ‘feel good’ hormones for you and your child and is a great way to pass long car journeys or even make tidying up fun!
Spending time with other children is valuable for pre-schoolers – this can be at nursery, toddler groups or with family and friends or at your local park.
Children learn how to communicate with other children. They can learn how their actions make others feel.
In time children learn to share and cooperate with others. Children do not usually understand sharing until they are 3 or 4 years old – until then they will struggle to see things from others points of view. This takes lots of practice!
Firstly remember that each child will develop at their own pace.
You might be reassured by using the Speech and Language Tool here on JustOneNorfolk*** and the ICan’s Talking Point Progress Checker *here*
Spend as much time as you can playing and talking with your child without distractions – even 5 minutes here and there add up and make a difference.
The professionals there for your child will understand the importance of your child reaching their potential. They will be able to advise you on any next steps needed.
If your child attends nursery or a registered childminder talk to them about your worries – they will be able to work with you to build your child’s skills.
Contact JustOneNumber on the details below to talk through your concerns.
Do you think your child can see and hear you ok? It may be recommended that this is assessed to be sure this is not getting in the way of their communication skill development.
Who Can Help?
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
*Click Here* to speak to other Norfolk parents and carers on our online community forum.