It is believed that a child’s brain shows expansive development during the first six years after birth. In this developmental stage, there is a reasonable likelihood of success. Thus, many parents put in efforts to teach as many things as they can during this growth stage. It may be advantageous for children, in the long run, to start learning a language during this period especially one which is not their native language or mother tongue.
The ability to communicate verbally is just as significant as reading and writing. For children nowadays, speaking a language fluently and with a good command is essential to develop speaking skills. Teaching children to speak is a talent all parents should possess as it will enhance their children’s verbal communication skills and encourages them to express themselves better than before.
In this article, we have enumerated simple ways which will prove to be advantageous in developing and improving children’s speaking abilities.
10 Ways to Enhance the Speaking Skills of Kids
One of the simplest ways to improve speaking abilities amongst children is by reading. Early on, parents should work to develop reading habits in their kids. Reading bedtime stories to children is one way to incorporate a reading habit. Stories are a great way to develop an interest in reading books. Parents should read books that fascinate and sparks curiosity in their children.
Parents should dedicate a considerable amount of time to reading. Reading books develops language skills. Books filled with pictures, pleasing visuals, and the usage of easy-to-understand sentences are useful for comprehending reading as well as speaking skills such as building vocabulary, correct pronunciations, fluency, etc. Read out loud to children and when they know how to read, ask them to read aloud. This helps in boosting their confidence.
- Listening to audiobooks
In order to advance in any language, it is vital to speak and listen to content related to that language on a daily basis. Listening to exciting stories from audiobooks is a fun way to improve reading as well as speaking abilities. Audiobooks help children to improve their pronunciation and increase their vocabulary.
Parents can start a conversation with their children after they finish listening to the audiobook by asking them what they liked and didn’t like about the story, whether they learned any new words, etc.
- Watching cartoons
It should come as no surprise that children enjoy cartoons, so why not use cartoons to teach kids? In this era of technology, parents have the option to toggle between languages. They can switch to the language they want their children to be proficient in, for instance, English. There is a possibility that children might find it challenging at first, but with time they will get used to it and find it interesting as well. Soon, kids will be accustomed to the particular choice of language and end up talking in that language around the house.
- Watching movies or documentaries
Watching movies or documentaries is a nice way to spend time together with your children. Parents should encourage watching movies or interesting factual documentaries to develop a liking for a variety of genres in a language they want their children to master. It allows children to listen to the native speakers of that language which assists them in learning the correct phonics, pronunciation, grammar, etc.
Spend some time discussing the movie/documentary. Encourage them to speak about what they liked about it or if there is something they did not understand.
- Focus less on grammar
When children are making efforts to converse or speak in any language, be it English or their native language, parents should not dwell on grammatical mistakes. Avoid correcting the kid’s grammar recurrently when they are speaking. Instead, encourage children to speak as much as they can; over time, their grammar will improve as a result of learning to pay close attention when their parents are speaking or chatting. Kids who are constantly and repeatedly corrected on their grammar will start feeling terrified and will stop speaking out of fear of making a mistake.
- Engage in every-day conversation
Try initiating a conversation with kids about the things that happen during their day. Ask them how their day went or if they learned a new word at school. Urge them to share small details about their day. Parents can do the same by narrating how their day went or if they saw something amusing on the television they wish to share, etc. The more children converse, the better their verbal abilities.
- Communicate with friends
Children spend a substantial time playing and talking with their friends, especially school-going children. Encourage children to talk to their friends or other kids residing in the neighbourhood to enhance their language fluency. It is easy and well within the child’s comfort zone to talk to friends as they do not fear being judged by them which is useful for improving communication skills.
Ask the kids to create a story around a fascinating subject or a beloved fictional character. Let the kids explore the extent of their imagination through this activity. Intersperse the questions with two or three others regarding the plot, the physical attributes of the characters, or a scene description urging them to broaden their thinking process. When children are narrating the story, parents should listen and focus attentively on their children without any distractions. Tell the kids how enjoyable it was after listening to the story and acknowledge their creativity.
- Show and tell
This activity is typically done in the classroom, but it can also be done at home with equal ease. Children are requested to bring their favourite item, which can be anything, such as a toy, a book, or even a souvenir from a family vacation. The purpose of this activity is for the child to demonstrate their favourite item, talk about it for one to two minutes, and then invite friends or the audience to ask questions. Show and tell is an excellent activity to enhance speaking skills and boost confidence among children.
- Interact through colouring
Indulge in a colouring activity with children and allow them to give out the instructions. For example, print two copies of the same colouring page, say, a house. Allow the child to decide and speak out loud which colours to use for every item such as roof, windows, curtains, etc. Ask the child to give instructions in a sentence form like, “use brown to colour the roof” or “every window should be coloured blue.”
All of the aforementioned techniques are straightforward and simple to carry out, and parents don’t require any special abilities or resources to engage in these activities with their kids. The first thing kids need for the development or improvement of any skill is their parents’ encouragement and support. With regular practice, the right techniques, and a positive attitude any parent can assist their child to improve his/her speaking skills with utmost ease.
Although the process might seem laborious, especially for children experiencing stage fright, rest assured that every second spent and every effort made will pay off in improving the kids’ speaking skills.