We all know that toddlers need lots of stimulation in order to grow and develop. They also need to be able to communicate their needs and wants, even when they don’t have the words for it! It’s a good idea to keep them stimulated while driving so they can build their language skills. Talk about what you see out the window, point out different things like animals or other cars on the road, or sing songs together.
One of the best things about being out and about with your toddler is that it presents lots of opportunities for talking, playing, and exploring. And since you’re strapped into a seat next to them, they can’t escape! This article will provide you with five simple strategies (and accompanying tips) for having fun while teaching your toddler new words–all while keeping them safe in their car seat. The end goal: A happy and healthy preschooler who feels confident speaking up when he or she needs something or has an opinion to share!
How to Build Your Toddler’s Language Skills While Driving
It’s never too early to start building your child’s language skills. Here are five great ways to do so while in the car.
1. Talk about what you see out of the window
Driving past a construction site means you can point out all sorts of diggers and rollers. Perhaps you’re stuck driving slow through road works – it will make finding your child’s favorites a lot easier! You might even find a more common vehicle or object to specifically look out for on each ride – maybe you can look for red cars!
2. Sing songs together
You can practice the alphabet, numbers, or any favorite songs. If you’re not sure what to sing try some of these ideas for inspiration:
- The wheels on the bus go round and round…
- Ten little monkeys jumping on a bed…
- One two buckle my shoe….etc.
If your child is very young, you can use songs to teach them about colors, shapes, and opposites. Music also helps to calm your child down in stressful situations.
3. Have a ‘conversation’
Even if your child isn’t stringing words together yet, you can still have a ‘conversation’. Keep the discussion going when they make a sound of any kind with a response of your own, like “is that right?” or “I knew it!”.
Get creative and use different voices – the energy in your response can go a long way in encouraging them to be involved! By keeping your toddler engaged in this way, they will feel more comfortable speaking up when they need something or have an opinion to share.
4. Tell jokes
Jokes are a great way to build language skills. They’re an excellent tool for helping your child express themselves, learn about the world around them, and make new connections between words they already know.
What do you call a sleeping dinosaur?
Don’t forget to make a decent snoring sound! When you tell your joke in a silly voice, you give your child the opportunity to practice imitating sounds.
When they guess what’s in the punchline, it helps them learn about sequencing and cause and effect relationships. Jokes are also a great way for children (and adults!) to explore their imagination!
5. Talk about what’s going to happen next or what you’ll do when you get to your destination
If your child is anything like my firstborn, they’ll appreciate a bit of heads up about what is going to happen. My son was particularly unsettled when he didn’t know what to expect next. This was especially the case when we were traveling for a holiday.
When he started to get grumpy, I’d let him know how many hours or minutes away our destination was and what time it would be there. It made for easy and often unique conversation, so there were plenty of new words and phrases to introduce him to.
What are the benefits of working on your child’s language in the car?
Using car time for language development achieves a number of things:
- It offers a monumental amount of language.
- It allows you to use a vocabulary that can’t be easily used at home (you might not have shopping carts or hospitals in the toy-box).
- It teaches a communication dynamic, even when your child can’t contribute to the conversation in the same way.
- It distracts your child and helps keep them from getting too bored or too fussy.
- It teaches that we talk to each other.
In an age when so much may distract your children from speaking with you, you want to instill the concept that you talk – in a natural, positive, low-stress way – as firmly and early as possible. This is not limited to cars; it’s just an extremely easy location to start. It is more essential than you think.
In conclusion – take advantage of the car time!
There are many benefits to teaching your child language while they’re in the car. By talking and singing with them during this time, you’ll give them a variety of vocabulary that can’t be found at home. You’ll also help distract them from getting too bored or fussy by making it fun for everyone involved!