"Use your words"
If you didn't know yet that Communication is one of our values from all of our many channels... no problem! Where it really shines is in our care program!
We believe, fundamentally, that children need words in order to think, and learn. Communication is the foundation of our social realm, and in whatever format it occurs, whether verbal, sign, or symbols, our teachers emphasize polite, appropriate communication in all of our interactions.
We know they can do it!
If that's not an expectation you have at home, or if kids are learning several languages at once, are shy, and even if they are simply more advanced in other learning domains, they may need some extra support when adjusting to daycare. No problem! That just means they have so much more to gain from the experience!
Plus! There are lots of easy ways you can start encouraging language development at home!
First and foremost, encourage them to try!
Parents are superheroes in their children's eyes!
Asking them to use words, when you already know what they want, can seem like an extra step. Especially if it's going to make them cry or cause a fuss. But encouraging them to use even single words ("please"), or a sound, or even a pursing of lips, before acquiescing, is the first step to polite communication. It's worth it! Ultimately, words give them the ability to have abstract thoughts, negotiate, and succeed in life.
The more often you ask your child to speak, the more often they will, and you will be blown away at how quickly their vocabulary expands when you introduce each object with a simple label that you ask them to repeat. It doesn't have to be a long lesson. As easy as holding out a spoon, and clearly saying the word, even showing your child how your mouth moves, before handing it over.
They will be expected to ask for their needs, express their feelings, and take turns with friends at daycare and school, so setting the stage at home sets them up for success.
Communication is an exchange ↔️ of information. One person talks, and the other listens. Then the second person speaks, and the first one listens.
At daycare, we emphasize this back-and-forth in our play with children of all ages and abilities, by showing them how to take turns.
For example, after the teachers add a block to the tower, we encourage the children to add a block. Then we add a block. And then they add a block. If they rush ahead, we remind them to wait until it's their turn again, building both patience and consideration. When it's hard to wait, we can set a timer.
In a larger group, we sing a song that names all the friends, and wave when we hear our name! We let each child choose one book, or an animal to act out, so everyone gets a chance.
Try it at home. Even cleaning up can be a turn taking activity. It's fun! And practical.
Highlighting turn taking, even with preverbal children, and definitely with toddlers and preschoolers, introduces the social norms they will experience their whole lives long.
Take baby steps
If your child feels shy about talking, communication can start with the point of a finger! Hold up two options, and ask them to indicate the one they'd like. Ask yes/no questions, and teach them to nod and shake their heads.
Some basic sign language, for "please" and "thank you," can bridge the gap, while they build the confidence, but unless they are physically unable to speak, every moment you spend encouraging them to use words will be the most helpful thing you can do for their language development.
Give them time
With places to go, and people to see, children's delayed response time can hold up the show, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't be given a say.
To avoid drama (or make time for it), try scheduling 10 extra minutes for your departure, bedtime, and meal prep routines so that, whenever possible, kids have as much time as it takes to make themselves understood.
That may mean calming their bodies first.
Don't forget to breathe.