Waiting is hard. It is hard for our little ones and it is hard for us! As you begin the process of helping your child develop their language skills, one very important strategy that needs to be practiced (by the adults!) is waiting. Providing your child with wait time after you have started a conversation, asked a question, or presented a direction helps them to understand that you expect a response and you value what they have to share. Below are some examples of what conversations might look like as you practice the skill of waiting while exploring the farm together.

New Language Learner

“Would you like to play with the animals?” (WAIT… look into your child’s eyes expectantly and accept any vocalization or form of communication)

“Yes! You would like to play with the animal toys!” I see the little piggie. What does the pig say?” (WAIT… smile at your child and if he/she doesn’t respond, continue your conversation)

“The pig says ‘oink, oink’!” He’s a messy pig. We need to wash the pig. Tell the pig ‘wash wash wash’!” (WAIT… move the sponge or washcloth near the pig, but don’t wash until your child provides a response such as a vocalization, smile or even a motion to wash)

“Wash, wash, wash the pig! Now he’s all clean!”

Experienced Language Learner

“Let’s play with the farm! Would you like to be a farmer or an animal?” (WAIT…your expectations for a response should match your child’s skills)

“You want the little duck, here you go. Let’s put the duck in the pond.” “I see some fish in the pond. What do you see?” (WAIT… be sure to look expectantly at your child during this wait time so they know you are expecting a response)

“You see another duck and a pig! It is fun to find animals on the farm.” “Now we need to feed the animals. What should we feed the horse?” (WAIT – if your child doesn’t answer, provide him/her with a choice)

“Should we feed him hay or pizza?”(WAIT – hold up the objects to provide a visual, if needed)

“That’s right! We should feed the horse hay in the barn.”

Additional Ways to Incorporate Wait Time

  • Sing a song that is familiar to your child. When it comes to a word, sound or phrase that is used throughout the song, WAIT. For example, sing “Old McDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-…….”, while giving your child an expectant look. Or “The Wheels on the bus go ________”
  • When dressing your child, make it a silly game! Ask them, “Does your sock go on your ear?”, then WAIT. The sillier the idea, the quicker they will be to tell you “No!”. If they don’t verbalize right away, try the same concept a couple more times with different clothing items.
  • During snack time, give them a couple of cheerios or bites rather than the entire snack. Each time they’d like more, ask “What would you like?” and WAIT for their vocalization or answer.