Speech: A developmental milestone for each baby

Speaking is one of the most thrilling steps in child development. It is fun for a parent when their child can begin to ask for things and communicate. Children also feel independence when they can communicate their needs.

As you probably know, language and literacy skills begin at birth. Children hear and respond to the adults and caregivers in their lives. Adults communicate with babies through everyday loving interactions—sharing books, telling stories, singing songs, and talking.

Adults can encourage babies to speak by getting close and listening.

Adults can encourage babies to speak by getting close and listening

Around babies, adults spend a lot of time watching, hearing and applauding the little one for each sound that is made. Research is now showing that how an adult responds to a child’s attempts to communicate makes a huge difference in how a child develops language.

The best tactic is to make communication a dance. Take time to get down on the floor with your baby and lay together. Make your communication like a waltz, with one partner leading the other. First, allow your baby to lead while you follow. Next, tell your baby something and listen for her response. The more you practice this dance, the more your child will open up. Even if you cannot fully understand your child’s babbles, encourage her to keep making the noises.

Loving adults should also watch for a child’s nonverbal skills. An attention parent can interpret what a child wants without saying a word. For instance, when a young boy points to the apple juice, his dad can respond by saying, “Oh, you want some juice?” while pouring him some.

By repeating what a child wants, you are giving him the gift of communication. Repetition of his needs provides good role modeling for developing and using language.

Each day, actively seek to introduce new words to your child. It is important to note that your daughter can comprehend many more words than she can say. Throughout the day, practice being a “sportscaster” and tell your child everything that is happening around her. During playtime, tell her you will throw the ball and you want her to catch it. Tell her the ball is squishy and red. Think of all of the things happening around you that you can share with her.

Likewise, if you child is playing with a farm set, tell her that she is putting the farmer in the barn by the cow. Make up a story about what is happening. Say the cow is getting hungry and needs some food. When the farmer is done working, he can put the tractor in the barn. Perhaps the cat and dog will follow him home. Have fun in describing what your child is doing through play.

Telling your child about the world around her and explaining her play gives her the opportunity to connect words, objects and activities. This will also help prepare her to communicate and have an interest in learning language.

Kindergarten teachers greatly appreciate parents who spend this important quality time with their children developing language. The teachers can also tell a noticeable difference between children that were loved and talked with every day verses children who did not have this time with adults.

This week, spend time talking with your child. It could make a world of difference in developing her communication skills.

© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2013

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