• Language

    Posted by Christa Abbott on 6/1/2015 8:55:00 PM

    Language is defined as the systematic use of socially shared rules, sounds or symbols to communicate.

    Word Meaning/Semantics (i.e., “paw” can refer to the act of scrape at something, handling something or someone clumsily, or the foot of an animal that has claws)

    Forming new words/Morphology (i.e., color, coloring, colored)

    Word Order/Syntax (sentence structure, i.e., “I am”; not “I is”)

    Word Choice determined by Situation/Pragmatics (i.e., we speak more formally to people in authority than we do with our friends. Or saying “MOVE!” would be appropriate in an emergency but would not be considered acceptable when “Would you mind moving so I can get by?” would be sufficient.)


    Everyday is a great day to build your child’s language.  

    • Do not hesitate to use advanced vocabulary words (especially if your child knows a synonym or antonym for the word).  
    • Play board games and card games.  These are fabulous for following directions, conversing, describing, etc. 
    • Read with your child, even if your child is a reader.  Pick a book that your child is interested in but that is above his/her reading level.  Enjoy the book together and spend time discussing the characters, character choices, events, etc. and how the lessons learned by the characters are great lessons for real life.
    • Have your child keep a summer journal.  They can write in their journal to tell about events of their day, about something they wish had happened that day (go crazy with these ideas - dream big!), or about a story they read or heard.  These journals become priceless keepsakes because of all the fabulous memories.  Cut out pictures from brochures, maps, boxes, etc. to make it a scrapbook journal of the places you went and things you did.  Let your child draw pictures to go with their stories, book reports, etc.
    • For your PK-K student, you may need to start by having your child tell you what they want to say.  Start by writing it for them and having them tell it and be the illustrator.  As their skills progress, have them tell their story while you write it on a separate sheet of paper.  They then copy it into their journal and add their illustration.
    • For your 1st-2nd grader, you may need to start with writing it for them to copy.  Do this by having them tell the story and having them tell you how to spell the words while you write it on a separate piece of paper.  Be sure he/she tells you when to capitalize and use punctuation.  Help with sounding out words when necessary.  Then your child will copy their story into their journal.  Eventually, they will be writing by themselves and asking you for help with the tricky words.
    • For book reports, have your child summarize the story.  For big chapter books, summarizing each chapter into 1 paragraph works well.  This is a great way to get lots of Accelerated Reader (AR) points at the beginning of the year.  The reports allow a review of the book without having to reread every book that was read over the summer.  Students can test on books you read together as well.  
    • Set up situations that will require your child to communicate with you.  Place desired items out of their reach so they have to request them and encourage grammatically correct, complete and polite sentences (“May I have the pink cup, please?” instead of “I want that.”).  
    • Encourage the use of adjectives (descriptive words). 
    • As parents we often know what our children want and give it to them without pause.  Take time a few times a week to “pretend” you do not know what your little one is asking and encourage them to describe it, ask for it by name, tell where the desired item is located, etc.  Words like, this, that, these, those, and there do not provide listeners with enough information and put a lot of work and stress on your communication partner.  For example, “Mom, she did that to her with those.” means nothing unless you saw the event unfold.  But “Mom, {name} did bump her with the lunchbox.” lets you know what happened even if you did not see the event.  If your child tells you something using the words listed above, ask them questions to get more detailed information.  
    • COOK!  Activities in the kitchen (laundry room too for that matter) are great for building vocabulary, following directions, etc.  Not to mention fabulous life skills.  You can set up situations that require communication.  For example, have your little one help you make some lemonade.  I know you can make it without reading the instructions but read them with your child and talk about what they mean and how you go through the steps.  Then do crazy things like giving them a regular spoon to use for stirring the 2 quarts of lemonade.  Your child will hopefully realize that this is not a big enough spoon and tell you so.  Help your child problem solve and look around the kitchen for something that might work.  This is just one example, get creative and have fun.  Let your child see that it is okay to make mistakes and that a great way to fix them is to communicate and problem solve with a partner.

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Last Modified on June 2, 2015