The Best Ways to Help Your Child with Hearing Loss Build Language Skills
By Hearing First Team January 8, 2019
A new year means a new set of goals and opportunities to help your child with hearing loss reach successful listening and spoken language outcomes. Start your year strong with our top tips to build your child’s language skills!
Whether you’re new to the LSL journey of helping your child who is deaf or hard of hearing learn listening and spoken language or you’re years into the process, it’s important to set age-appropriate goals and intentions to help them reach their full potential. And there’s no better time for diving into growth quite like the new year!
Ready to dive in? We’ve listed some of the best ways to help your child with hearing loss build language skills no matter their age! These tips, straight from LSL professionals, will set you and your child up for successful listening, spoken language, and literacy growth in the new year!
- Add meaning to sounds: Your baby’s brain wants to make sense of everything they hear! Point out sound, name and describe it and help your baby learn the words that make that sound real.
- Talk about everything: Your baby learns language from you during the very routines and activities you share with them every day! Talk about everything from what you’re doing, to what your baby is interested in! Every word, phrase, and sentence your baby hears adds to their growing language brain.
- Sing a little tune: The music of language carries so much meaning and your baby is ready to learn the pitch, rhythm, and rhyme of your favorite songs.
- Explore books together: The listening-reading connection starts the moment your baby is born. With your baby on your lap, you can cuddle up and use your best animated reading voice to talk about what’s happening on the pages of your favorite books!
- Build listening during play: Give your toddler practice with listening first by talking about directions before doing them. (“I’m going to put a ball in your truck. I wonder if dad wants a plate?”) Know what to expect next for listening development so you can keep up and support your toddler to reach listening milestones.
- Have two-way conversations: Your toddler has lots to say! Remember to give plenty of wait time for your toddler to listen, process what you’ve said, and take a turn in the conversation. Then you can expand on what they have to say!
- Follow their lead: Toddlers are busy exploring their world and can keep us on the move! Observe what your child is exploring and give them the words, phrases, and sentences to help them understand the language and concepts around everything they are experiencing.
- Explore the world of words: There is no limit to the number of words your child can learn! Keep on using new words in familiar phrases and sentences. Add words for actions (stomping, buzzing), feelings (grouchy, cheerful), senses (smelly, bumpy), size (huge, tiny) and just about everything else.
- Know what’s next: Between 18 months and age 3, your toddler will move from a few words to speaking clearly in full sentences! Make sure to stay up to date on your child’s progress and be ready to support them in reaching the next milestone!
- Practice auditory memory in daily activities: List items before getting them. (“We need flour, eggs, butter and sugar for our cookies. What do we need?”) Encourage listening for key information in stories and conversations by modeling what you heard (“I heard dad say he wants burgers for dinner. What did you hear?”)
- Practice telling and retelling life events: Your child has stories to tell every day! Use an experience book to help your child organize and talk about events in their lives.
- Expand and extend language: As your child continues to use longer sentences and more complex language, you can support them by modeling developmentally appropriate language for them. It helps them to hear your model so they can have plenty of exposure to try using more complex language.
- Use thinking language: Theory of mind (TOM) is the ability to recognize and put into language our own unique thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and to understand that other people have perspectives, thoughts, and beliefs different from our own. This skill is the foundation of our social relationships and is instrumental in higher-level thinking and literacy. You can support your child by asking questions about what book characters are feeling and thinking and by talking through the reactions and emotions of siblings, friends, and family members.
By combining these tips with the daily practice of wearing hearing technology all waking hours, you’ll help set your child up for a lifetime of language and learning! Looking for more tips and tricks to help your child build language skills in the new year? Join the Family Support Community and connect with parents just like you who are helping their children thrive with Listening and Spoken Language (LSL)!