Helping my child to communicate

For young children to develop their speaking they need to have lots of talk time with adults. The activities below will give you a little inspiration. Whatever you do take time to talk to your child, as it is what parents do that makes a difference.

At home

  1. This one is for adults only! Listen to yourself when you talk to your child. Who does most of the talking? Who does the listening? Who asks the questions? Set yourself a little target such as: giving your child more time to answer, comment more and question less, talk about things that interest your child. Children’s language develops more when adults follow the child’s interests, use comments instead of questions and really show they are listening. It’s not as easy as it sounds!
  2. What’s in the bag? Collect 5-10 simple objects and place them in an old pillow case or bag. Shake the bag to build excitement. Encourage your child to put their hand in the bag (without looking) and select an object. Explore each object in turn; name it, talk about what it does and any special features (e.g.: ‘this car has big wheels’).
  3. Make something with your child. It may be craft or construction. Doing it together gives lots of time for talking. Try and listen more than talk and add comments more than questions.
  4. Busy day. Encourage your child to tell someone what they did during the day. They might need help to say one thing at first, but later they will learn to talk in more detail. Give your child opportunities to talk on the phone. If they require some support, teach them how to answer the phone and prompt them with what they can say on the phone. Granny in particular will be grateful!
  5. Do some acting. Take in turns to act out some simple scenarios like getting a pretend present, falling over and hurting your knee, running late for work / school or finding that your gloves are missing. Really emphasise body language, facial expressions as well as what to say. Lots of phones have video recording, so it is fun to play them back as well.

Out & about

  1. Get out and about. Exploring Hackney will give you and your child lots to talk about as well as lots of time to play the speaking and listening games on the journey. Take photos of your trip so that your child can talk to others when you get back. Artburst are a Hackney based group who free run groups for children. Check out
  2. Travelling topics. On the bus or in the car think of a topic and see how many things you can come up with as a team in a set time. A minute might be enough. You can choose any topic but here are some ideas for inspiration: clothes, body parts, animals, things I can do or places I go.
  3. Alphabet game. One for the bus or car. Start with calling out ‘a’. Everyone then tries to spot something that starts with an ‘a.’ when someone has called out an item starting with ‘a’ you can move on to ‘b’ and so on through the alphabet. Or for younger children call out a colour and everyone can spot something that is that colour before you call a different colour.
  4. Photo time. If you do anything out of the ordinary, such as go on a trip or have a party take lots of photographs. From time to time look at them again with your child. Encourage your child to talk about the photos with visitors such as Granny or friends also. You can also take photos of your child doing things around the house such as playing, helping out or eating lunch.