When we talk about language stimulation and how the instances of interaction influence children's development, the role of close adults as main linguistic models is highlighted, but little is said about how siblings influence the language acquisition process . What role do older siblings play in a child's language development?
When a young child plays with his older brother, a lot of learning happens: watching games, listening to conversations, looking with a mixture of admiration and fascination at those who know so much about games, making up stories, creating characters, singing songs or doing mischief.
What are the benefits of sibling play and interaction in language development? What aspects of language do children learn by playing and interacting together?
- Varied language
Children who have siblings are exposed to conversations with greater complexity and lexical variety. As there are more interlocutors, they are exposed to various situations of communicative and linguistic exchange.
- Learning possessive and personal pronouns
In situations of games and communicative exchanges, possessive and personal pronouns such as mine, yours, me, you usually appear early.
- Use of imperative and declarative terms
Linguistic formulas to make requests like 'give me' or 'I want' or to make comments, 'like', 'look' or 'this'.
- Richness of the pragmatic level of language
Children have greater opportunities to learn to take turns, to wait, to repair misunderstandings, to adapt their language to different contexts and interlocutors; And it is that younger siblings usually accompany their older siblings to different activities (club, school, birthdays).
This important skill for language development is also enriched in sibling interaction. They tend to imitate them in sequences of actions, in games, in songs, in the use of objects and in their toys.
- Token game
Sibling play is delicious, creative, complicit, and relaxed. They put their ideas together and display them in the game, enriching language, planning and ideation. The older brother lends words and phrases to the younger, syntactically and semantically modeling their productions in a natural and incidental way.
How can we accompany this process as parents? What experiences and games between siblings benefit the development of communication and language and do we promote at home?
- Family experiences and experiences
They benefit the relationship between siblings and are enhancers of language learning. These are pleasant and fun experiences such as camping, vacations, fishing, trips to the museum, the park ... It is very important to take advantage of these experiences by adding language and then using them to tell anecdotes, put together photo albums, watch videos, describe the places visited or the meals.
- Tea party with dolls
Putting together a snack with your favorite dolls, counting the number of guests, arranging the cups or cookies can be a very interesting linguistic experience: there will be requests ('give me cookies'), use of terms to request recurrence ('I want more tea') or to express like or dislike ('I don't like tea' or 'I like milk').
- Cook together
This activity gives children the possibility to explore different textures that food offers us and to learn action sequences that we must follow to achieve a goal: first I wash my hands, then I look for ingredients and utensils and, finally, I prepare the food. All this requires a series of steps that are accompanied by vocabulary and specific syntactic structures to reach the desired preparation. In a simple cooking activity, executive function skills that have to do with planning, language, emotions and sensations are combined.
- Bubble baths
A bubble bath with your favorite toys can be a very fun experience and even more so if you do it with siblings. They can name toys, body parts, sing songs, make foam wars, create fun foam hairstyles, and have a fun and memorable time together.
- Family cinema
Making a home theater plan is always fun: from preparing popcorn, making tickets with little pieces of paper, arranging chairs one after another emulating cinema seats, turning off all the lights ... These types of games encourage the imagination and creativity of the child, favoring his understanding and expressive language. And do not forget to tell the movie that your grandparents and other family members have seen to practice narrative skills.
- Play statues
Dance a choreography and then turn into statues when the music stops. The songs are a great linguistic stimulus for children, as they are repetitive and rhythmic sequences, they are easy to remember and incorporate into the lexicon.
Singing is a lot of fun and it also helps to make stable sentences and syntactic structures. Select your favorite songs and enjoy singing together for a moment!
- Outdoor games
Playing hide and seek, hopscotch, jumping rope, flying a kite, gathering dried flowers and leaves, throwing pebbles in the water, making snail races or dancing in the rain can be fun and memorable activities when it comes to telling anecdotes. .
- Tongue twisters, rhymes and verses to recite
Make up rhymes or tongue twisters with family names. They can recite them as a family in a fun way: slower, faster, singing ...
- Made-up stories
Tell stories that narrate situations experienced by them, but changing the name of the characters. Its benefit is that children identify with what the characters feel and think and invite reflection and dialogue on different topics.
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