When we think of a child’s speech and language development, we tend to think of what the child can say but receptive language is a key component to child development and is used as a marker by professionals when detecting delays and disorders in toddlers and preschoolers.
What is receptive language?
Receptive language is the ability to “receive” or understand words and language rather than the ability to produce it. It involves gathering and processing information from routine and environment (sights, sounds, words, etc.). (Source)
Signs of a receptive language issue
Of course, all kids are different and will progress at different rates but there are certain signs that my point to an issue with receptive language.
Answers questions by repeating instead of answering the question.
Has difficulty paying attention and listening at age level.
Does not engage with or respond to stories.
Has trouble following directions.
Consistently misunderstands what is being said to him.
Seems disinterested when people are speaking to her.
How to build receptive speech
Physically demonstrate to your child what it is that you want him to do when giving instructions.
Minimize distractions. When you are playing, reading, etc. turn off the tv, radio, etc. to help your child focus on engaging with you and, ultimately, language.
Make eye contact with your child when you speak. This means, you need to get down on her level - sit, kneel, do what you need to to do look your child in the face. This will help your child to focus on what you are saying and helps you to know that you have her attention before giving out instructions.
Keep it simple. Too many instructions or information can be confusing. Keep your communication simple to help make sure your child is able to to process the information you are giving.
Talk, talk, talk! As you go through the various activities of the day, explain everything to your child - what you are doing, how you are doing it, where you are doing it, etc.
Read and encourage your child to predict what is going to happen next.
Play. Don’t ever underestimate the power of play! When you play with your child, it will organically bring out conversation and opportunities to explain things.
If you have concerns about your child’s understanding of speech and language, contact a speech therapist or your pediatrician for a referral.
About the Author
Hi! I'm Inez, the owner and content creator of For the Love of Mom, a website dedicated to helping moms thrive in motherhood by offering helpful advice, tips and resources.