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How can I stimulate language development in my toddler classroom?
Q: Why can I do to stimulate the development of language in my toddler classroom? Some of my 2-year-olds don’t talk yet.
A: Thanks for asking this question, Sandy. I happen to think teachers in toddler classrooms are among the most important people in the world—though the amount of money we pay them and the status we accord them would never suggest that. I have three suggestions, each of which could be expanded to book length. (1) Find an opportunity to give each one some entirely individual attention each day—reading a favourite book, walking outside hand in hand, sitting on the floor and enjoying a special toy together. (2) Read to the children every day and give them a chance to point to pictures and repeat some of the words. (3) Talk, talk, talk to them! I have left this one for last because it is the most important. One simply cannot stress enough the importance of talking to language-hungry toddlers. I don’t want to offend you, but you probably think you talk to them more than you do. Try to give some type of verbal response every time they attempt a word. Praise them lavishly if they come even close. Label objects for them constantly: “Oh, you want your workbench,” putting stress on the name of the object. And I should add here, remind their parents of the importance of these keys to language.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education