Create an LSL Outcome You’ll Love

To coincide with February’s Live Love LSL celebration campaign, we’re focusing on the importance of words and how constant conversation can help your child who is deaf or hard of hearing learn to listen, talk and read at the same level as their hearing friends by third grade. Read below for some of our favorite strategies you can use in your day-to-day interactions with your little learner to create LSL outcomes you'll love!

Valentine's Day is on the way! This year during our Live Love LSL campaign, we’re celebrating the love of words your children can hear, live, love and say. How do you choose the words you want your baby to hear, learn and say? The good news is you have a world of words at your disposal and your daily routines provide endless opportunities to use them in context. 

If your baby or child with hearing loss has optimal auditory access during all awake hours, there is no limit to how many words they can hear and learn. Children with hearing loss can miss casual conversation and are at risk for delays in vocabulary development. Your baby needs to hear 40 million words during these important early years, and their brain is wired and ready to hear to make lasting brain connections as the foundation for a lifetime of learning. It may seem like an overwhelming job, but just by using the words you love, you have everything it takes to create pivotal conversations and interactions all day, every day. Explore the ways you can connect and expand the words your baby will love in how you use language.

Use Real Words for Real Connections
Using specific words for actions, objects and details builds meaning around what you’re doing throughout the day. Your baby’s brain is constantly building connections through the words they hear during the experiences they have. Every time you put words to what you or your baby are doing, you’re building their language brain. Record a 5-10 minute interaction with your baby. What words are you using? Watch out for words like “this,” “that” and “there.” These non-specific words don’t expand those brain connections. Instead, make it intentional and specific. “Look, your elephant has a long trunk.”

Expand & Encourage Words
Your baby is communicating from day one! Perhaps they coo or say a word. This is your invitation to expand on what they’re saying by putting it in a phrase or sentence. “Coo” becomes “Well, hello to you too.” This serve and return process actually encourages brain growth as you put words to your baby’s communication.

Add Information & Actions 
If your baby says “truck,” what else can you add? “Your truck can go fast and sloooow.” By adding information, your baby can experience new concepts connected to the words they already know. Provide experience with the concepts, taking the time to highlight each descriptive word. For an example of this strategy, try saying and acting out the truck driving “fast” and “slow.”  

Make Connections by Thinking in Word Trees
Your baby’s brain can make an infinite number of neural connections, helping them to relate words, concepts and ideas. Think of their brain as a tree with roots and branches that are constantly growing. Promote successful connections and associations during your daily routines by making sure to:

  • Add descriptors to familiar words “Our dog has fur, whiskers, paws and a tail.”
  • Put toys away by category “Let’s find all of the animals.”
  • Use different words for the same concept (synonyms) “You can jump, leap and bound.”
  • Let one word lead to another concept. “Your truck has wheels. What else has wheels?”

Express Words of Love and Emotion
Babies experience a full range of emotions from love and contentment to sadness and frustration - sometimes in the course of 15 minutes. Babies don’t have the ability to regulate these strong feelings and can often get overwhelmed. Naming and talking about feelings is an important first step in helping your baby develop emotional regulation over time. Teaching the language of emotion will also help your baby to develop empathy for others and understand that others have emotions different from our own. You can practice this by:

  • Naming your baby’s feelings - cheerful, sad, frustrated, scared
  • Describing how you or other family members feel
  • Identifying feelings of characters when sharing a book

The words you use and the way you use them today will establish the foundation for your baby’s vocabulary growth, spoken language communication, literacy skills for reading and writing as well as their long term academic success. Think of this practice as the perfect Valentine’s gift while you share your love of words with your baby.

Join the social conversation: Use the hashtag #LiveLoveLSL to share how you pass along your love of words to your child.

Download our "Choose the Words You Love to Use" handout

Download our "Name That Emotion!" handout