This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

Have you looked at your little one in disbelief after they spoke and wondered “Wow! Did you just say that? How are you getting so old?!” We have had this experience more and more often lately with my nearly 20 month old daughter. She continues to amaze us with her responses to our questions and her ability to say more and more words every day. She seemingly understands everything we say and surprises us with the amount of times she’s speaking in full sentences. I definitely won’t forget her first full sentence…an emphatic “I got this!”

Kids develop their language and speaking ability at different rates and times and sometimes it appears as though they just all of a sudden start carrying on full conversations with you. However, the truth is that we as caregivers have a major role in this development and the best tool we can use is simply this: talking with our kids.

The more words kids hear from us the more they start to understand those words and try to repeat them back to us. What’s great is that we can give them these words in many different ways. Narrating and describing everyday actions may feel silly, but is a great way for kids to hear lots of words and know more about what you’re doing. Singing in the car or at bedtime is another great way to expose them to more words, and kids don’t tend to be too harsh of critics of our singing voice. Telling stories, reading books and asking about the favorite part of your child’s day are all great ways to engage in more conversation with them and show them you care. They may not be able to respond to each of your questions and you may not be able to understand everything they say, but you can bet they are sure soaking up the attention and filling their brains with words.

This is fatherhood…