BEST STARTS FOR KIDS
10 Tips to Develop Early Language in Children
While one of my toddlers was happy to chat, I needed to explain to the other why using his words was important...
This being so I could understand exactly what he wanted.
It was like the light went on for him. He went from pointing (and being frustrated when I didn't get it right,) to speaking in sentences within weeks. He learnt he got more of what he wanted, by talking.
And it wouldn't have happened as soon if I hadn't expected him to use his words.
So what did we do to produce capable early communicators?
When I was pregnant I sometimes sang. And when my children were born I carried them around with me in a pouch and chatted with them as I did things.
In hindsight, as babies, they would have been exposed to many thousands of words a day just by their proximity to me, as I conversed with others.
This helped them to hear the intonation in my voice, and the pauses that indicate I've finished a thought. They heard familiar words that they began to recognize.
And equally important, because they were close to me, they learnt language made them feel safe.
Again at around five to six months of age (when they were sitting in a high chair to eat) we added a language layer to it.
For example: We had small animal figures which visited only during mealtimes. We would ask 'What does the puppy dog say?' And my son would attempt to say 'Bowowow.' Then we'd say 'What does the pussy cat say?' And again he would attempt to say 'Neow.'
Not only was he learning animal names he was producing intentional sound.
My goal was to build on our children's ability to produce intentional varied sounds, all of which are precursors to speech.
From around nine months on we began to introduce reveal books or peek-a-boo books like the 'Spot ' series.
Our children learnt the books off by heart and would indicate which animals were waiting under the bed, or inside the toy box, etc by making the sound the animal made.
But as their language improved they made rudimentary attempts at saying the name of the animal, all of which I encouraged.
If your child has some prereading skills prior to school, learning to read would be easier for them.
For some very sobering reading, The Early Catastrophe: The Thirty Million Word Gap is very thought provoking.
This study identified there can be a thirty million word gap between children from high, and low socio-economic backgrounds, by the age of three.
To learn more go to the following link:
And most importantly I always spoke to my children like they were intelligent beings.
This ensured they had a well-developed vocabulary and high-level of understanding prior to school. Once they could read for themselves they became capable of using books and computers to obtain information from a very young age.
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER:
If you're talking about birdies and horsies with a four year old, they could be capable of so much more.
While birdies fly... eagles can soar.
Did you know that most children learn to produce sounds in English in roughly the same order of difficulty and that 'r' and 'th' are some of the last sounds to develop for most children.
Correct articulation is the foundation for future reading and writing success.
For more information go to BEST STARTS links below or if you like this page share it with friends.
Sing to your baby, toddler, preschooler: nursery rhymes, fun children's songs
Carry babies around with you and talk to them
Smile. Get in close and make repetitive noises
Add a language layer to meal times
Ask 'Where is the...' questions. They point
Read simple board books from around 5-6 months of age
Develop their vocabulary of real things in their world
Extend this to include prepositions by using 'Peek a Boo' Books at around 9 months of age
Read at least one book every day
Speak to your children in age appropriate ways, remembering they're intelligent beings
When we changed their nappies we got in close and smiled, made repetitive nonsense sounds encouraging them to speak back.
I waggled my tongue, made repetitive noises like bubbubbub sounds. I blew raspberries. I said 'mamama.' And I smiled.
They were seeing my face close to theirs and I was showing them how to produce sound.
e.g.: How to blow air through my lips ... which is a precursor to the plosive sounds of 'p' and 'b'.
Try making a 'p' sound yourself. Feel the air expelled.
We read simple board books to them from when my children were around four or five months old. I focused on vocabulary building pointing and naming things.
At around six months for example, we asked questions like: 'Where's the pussy cat?' 'Where's the cow... dog... etc?' and they had to identify the appropriate animal from the group by pointing.
As they became more capable we chose more complex animals and a wider variety of animals to choose from.
My goal was simply to build their vocabulary, because once they knew what things were, it was easier to build concepts around these things later.
For example: Building on: The cat is under the bed. The shoe is on the chair.
I read both of my boys on average the equivalent of at least one story/chapter a day, until they were around eight where we either shared reading, or they read independently themselves.
Obviously the books became more complex as they grew older.
Reading to children builds their vocabulary, comprehension, and lays the foundations for their own future reading. They begin to understand the importance of reading for sense. As they watch you read, they learn skills of starting at the top left hand side of a page, the way we read from top to bottom, the way we return sweep to the next line, turn a page, etc.
As toddlers my goal was to continue to build on my children's ability to recognize things and on their attempt to speak. And I praised them for any attempt that was even close, rather than identify any error and attempt to correct it.
For example, if one of them said 'Neow' instead of 'Meow' for cat I said: 'That's right it was the cat. The cat says Meow.' And over time he corrected himself.
It's important to realize that most of all, we're attempting to create a positive attitude about speech and learning in general.
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