Early Language Stimulation Suggestions

Follow your child’s lead

  • Observe what your child is interested in.
  • Wait for your child to express her/himself in her/his own way. See which toy or activity s/he chooses. Allow her/him to direct the activity.
  • Listen to see what your child says. Join in and talk about what you and your child are doing.
  • By talking about what your child is interested in, s/he has will have an easier time learning language.
  • By following your child’s lead, it shows you are interested in what s/he is doing.

Adapting to the experience

  • Be at the same physical level. It’s important to face each other whenever possible. This will help you maintain your child’s attention and be more sensitive to her/his responses and provide helpful visual cues.
  • Take turns- children initially learn to take turns in play. Later, children learn how to take turns when talking/interacting.
  • Keep the conversation going – teach don’t test. Commands, directions and yes-no questions don’t encourage talking. While questions may be useful at times, too many questions provide fewer opportunities for your child to imitate words.
  • Turn a question into a comment.
  • Talk about what your child is doing.
  • e.g. instead of,  “Are you playing with blocks?”, try“You are playing with blocks”.
  • Label new words instead of testing to see whether s/he knows the word.
  • e.g. instead of “What’s this?”,  try  “Oh look, it’s a car!!”


  • Imitate the sounds or words your child says. If your child babbles “baba”, you can repeat “baba”.
  • If your child looks out the window on a winter day and says “so fa”, imitate and make corrections, e.g. “Yes, snow fall”.
  • By imitating, you are showing your child that you are interested in what s/he is saying and it encourages her/him to imitate you back.


  • Use words that s/he would use if s/he could.
  • Provide a clear model of how the words should sound, without calling attention to the error.
    e.g. Child:  “daw”
    Parent “ Dog, yes there is a dog!
  • Provide your child with words for sounds or gestures that s/he uses.
    e.g. Child: “uh oh”Parent: “uh oh, the milk spilled”


The following are great ways for your child to learn new words:

  • Labelling .
  • Describing.
  • Talking about what your child is doing.
  • Talking about what you are doing.

Keep expansions one step ahead of her/his language level. If a child is saying 1 word,

expansions should be 2 words .

e.g. Child: “Baby”

Parent:  “Baby sleeps”

Ways to highlight information

  • Gesture- This is an effective way of helping children understand language. Gestures capture children’s interests and help with attention. Gestures provide information, show emotion and convey attitude.
    Gestures can provide children with a means to communicate before they can talk, e.g. arms raised to convey “lift me up”, or a head shake to say “no”.
  • Emphasize important words. Try exaggerating key words, prolonging a word, pausing before a word.
  • Repeat repeat repeat- the more times you can repeat a word in a meaningful way in a set amount of time, the greater the chances the child will begin to understand and use that word in their vocabulary repertoire.e.g. for “bubbles”, try, “More bubbles,” “Pop bubbles”, “Blow bubbles”, “Open bubbles,”, “Close bubbles”.

Sharing a book

  • Allow your child to choose the book.
  • Give your child as much time as s/he needs to look at pictures.
  • Reinforce with sounds, actions, words.
  • Use an animated voice.
  • Label pictures.
  • Try leaving out familiar words or parts of words for your child to fill in.


Daily routines

  • Take advantage of everyday activities to stimulate language learning.
  • Take turns.
  • Repeat key words.
  • Label actions/objects.
  • Model each step, e.g., “Getting dressed”, “Shirt on”, “Pants on”, “Socks on”.
  • Label the end of the routine, e.g. “All finished”.
  • Examples of daily routines include bath time, bed time, meal time and play time.
Referenced from The Hanen Centre