"Long before a Child begins to speak, he's already communicating with the world around him. From a very young age, a baby knows that a cry will draw a parent's attention and that holding out his arms means 'pick me up." (The Hanen Centre.2016. www.hanen.org)
Language Development is a term that is thrown around a lot in the early years of a child's life. But I often hear parents asking 'what does it mean?' and more importantly, if trying to encourage it, 'what does this look like?'
So how can parents support this learning and development? A key strategy that is both simple and effective is O.W.L.
O.W.L. - Observe, Wait, Listen
This encourages parents to
Observe - What their child is doing and what they might be looking at... resulting in child-lead engagement
Wait - Comment on their observation and wait for the child to engage with them. This gives the child time to process the exchange.
Listen - This encourages parents to listen to 'what' their child is trying to communicate rather than 'how' they are communicating it.
Give it a try when you are giving your child their dinner tonight, or even when they are having a bath. You might get a lovely surprise at the little conversation you can have!
At Hands-On Heads we have our very own loveable Professor OWL to help remind us of this valuable strategy.