“Through language, children make sense of experiences and the world around them.” (Karen Stephens)
Language is very crucial in the everyday existence of children. According to America’s top learning expert, Dr. Mel Levine, language is the vehicle for talking to parents, teachers and friends. It is an essential ingredient of reading, writing, spelling, and even mathematics.
Expressive and Receptive Language Dr. Mel Levine says that some kids talk much better than they understand while some others understand much better than they talk. This is the difference between receptive and expressive language. Receptive language refers to a child’s understanding of written and/or spoken language. Children with good receptive skills are the ones that never say much in class but excel in tests and absorb and understand more than the others. However, children with this skill need to exercise their verbal muscles more so that they will gain more confidence in relating to others. Expressive language, on the other hand, refers to language production. Children with good expressive skills can translate thoughts into words, sentences and actions. On the other hand, those children who have good expressive skills also need to become more accurate listeners by engaging in reading to improve their reception.
Developing Your Child’s Expressive Skills If you are parents whose children have good receptive skills, here are just a few tried and tested activities you can do at home to develop their expressive skills : a. Engage in rich verbal interactions – encourage your children to elaborate and communicate in complete sentences. You can find these opportunities during meal time, at bedtime or maybe when you are all buckled up in the car. b. Picture Stories – you can use drawings or pictures from magazines and ask them what they see in the picture c. Retelling a familiar story – you can use your children’s favourite story and ask them to retell by using picture cues d. “What Happens Next?” – your child can benefit from the idea of predicting in stories and carrying on the ideas of the story. Provide some pictures and ask your child, “What happens next?” e. Telephone Talk – this is a useful and fun activity you can role play with your children and use language without the benefit of facial expressions and gestures.
Let us not forget that language is the groundwork for learning. A preschooler’s path to having good language skills is having a responsive mommy and daddy. You are your children’s first teachers—talk and listen to them as much as you can.
Sources: • A Mind At A Time – by Dr. Mel Levine • Parenting Exchange – by Karen Stephens