How to Stimulate Verbal Fluency in Children
The language acquisition process in children has several different stages. It’s a process in which various individual, family and social factors play a role. These factors affect, to a greater or lesser extent, its correct development. As children get older, they should acquire more vocabulary and improve their pronunciation. Therefore, it’s essential to utilize effective strategies to stimulate verbal fluency in children.
Verbal fluency means more than just talking a lot – it’s about speaking well
Sometimes, we confuse verbal fluency with a person’s ability to speak a lot. However, the concept of verbal fluency refers not only to being able to speak a lot, but also to being able to speak well. So, it’s one’s ability to express themselves with some ease, and to do so using the correct words.
Verbal fluency is a complex function that requires the intervention of different cognitive processes. Some of these processes include verbal production and search strategies to locate the answers, while also eliminating others. This is in addition to other cognitive processes, such as memory, information processing, attention and flexibility.
When a person has the skill of verbal fluency, they’re able to express themselves in different contexts and settings. They’re able to build an argument and quickly evoke concepts. Therefore, verbal fluency is a skill that allows a person to communicate, express themselves, express opinions, as well as to argue clearly and concisely without hesitation and without stuttering.
There are two kinds of verbal fluency: semantic fluency and phonological fluency. Semantic fluency has to do with the ease of finding words within the same category (for example, days of the week). On the other hand, phonological fluency refers to the ability to use words that share the same phonological characteristics (for example, words that begin with the same phoneme).
How to stimulate verbal fluency in children
It’s essential to create spaces that will help stimulate verbal fluency in children. You can plan and develop the following activities both at school and at home:
- Strike up conversations with children. It’s good for teachers and parents to talk to children about various topics. Although they might not know what every word means, it’s beneficial to get accustomed to hearing and becoming familiar with new words. Then, little by little, they’ll learn more words.
- Encourage them to read. Read stories to them and have them read. As children acquire the habit of reading, they acquire more vocabulary. In addition, this will help them with the flow of their words, which is essential for verbal fluency.
- Make rhymes and tongue twisters. This is a good strategy to help them improve their pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm when speaking. For example, you can compete against your child to see who can say the most words in a minute. You can play this game using categories, like animals, colors, or cartoon movie characters. Also, you could try doing it with words ending in the same vowel.
- Complete sentences. This is an activity that helps children find and remember words that will fit the context of the sentence. The words they choose to finish the sentence need to match its theme and they need to make sense. In addition, your child can use suitable adjectives or verbs to complete the sentence.
- Describe different objects’ uses. For this activity, you can ask questions like: “What is this for?” or “What do you know about this?” These questions will encourage your child to talk about something, like a kitchen utensil, an item of clothing or a story. Also, you’re giving them the freedom to find the words that they think are most appropriate or useful to describe the object.
Creativity and play, another strategy to stimulate verbal fluency in children
From the age of four or five, children will acquire a large amount of their linguistic skills. Also, children will approach the different forms of language through imitation. That means that they’ll imitate what they hear in their environment. First, they’ll imitate what they hear at home around their families, then they’ll start to imitate what they hear at school.
However, it’s through creativity and play that they’ll discover they can communicate and make themselves understood better if they use more words and more phrases. Therefore, you can encourage your children to be creative and invent new words. That’s the first step to help them discover new words.
Creativity through playful activities is the trigger and starting point to teach children more words, as well as their correct pronunciation and meaning. Creativity and play are the best strategies when it comes to awakening your children’s curiosity and desire to learn. From there, they’ll progressively develop greater and better verbal fluency.