Developing your Child's Speech and Language
All childrens speech develops at different rates so don't be tempted to
compare your child to others their
age. Some children first start speaking at three or four years old so
don't think that because they aren't speaking, they arent learning-
they are! In fact they are absorbing everything they hear around them in
conversation and dialogue. Therefore the environment is an important
tool in developing early speech and language.
parent, you are in fact also a teacher, as your child will inevitably
learn most of their behaviour and actions from
To encourage your child to start talking try
incorporating these simple tips into your everyday routines.
Carefully monitor what your child hears and what you say,
as your child will repeat and absorb the language they hear around them. For more
information see Language Acquisition Theories.
Keep your child healthy and try to ensure you encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle. This may
not seem significant to a childs speech, but if a child is in good
health they are likely to learn more and respond to the language they
hear in their environment. A balanced diet with the correct nutrients
and a range of foods will develop the muscles in your childs mouth,
essential for their speech and the ability to form words.
Always attend regular check ups with your childs paediatrician, as this
will ensure your childs hearing is checked and any potential
disabilities or problems are identified early.
Provide a rich stimulating environment for your baby or child. Decorate
you childs room with colourful educational posters and pictures to
stimulate their interest in the world around them and provide a focus
for conversation. Musical toys such as interactive educational keyboards and games are also beneficial.
Perhaps most essential is for a parent to read to
their child. This is perhaps the most important way of developing
your childs language and auditory discrimination. Have a range of
picture books and set aside time daily to share a favourite picture book with
your child such as a story from the Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics.
Sing songs or play a Counting Songs CD
for your child perhaps when on long car journeys. This will develop your
childs language and vocabulary range but also their concentration and
understanding of early number concepts.
You may like to sing nursery rhymes with your child to develop their language and auditory discrimination .
Youll be amazed at how quickly your child picks up the words and learns
the tune to each song! The Jolly Phonics Songs are also beneficial as they teach letter sounds in preparation for
pre-school and reading development.
Talk to your child and always look at them when you
are speaking to them or giving them instructions. Explain your
reasons for doing things, such as when you are getting them ready for a bath or bed.
Vary your tone of voice, use expression and body language to convey meaning.
Make sure your child understands your overall communication through
gestures even though they may not fully understand the language.
Provide your child with opportunities to socialise with other children and family members. This will encourage them to
communicate with others and become more confident in expressing
Attend a mother and toddler group
at a local Children's Centre, playgroup or pre-school,
as this provides an invaluable tool for developing social skills and
also gives your child access to an environment rich in language. There are also lots of Rhyme time groups which often take place at local libraries. These will be very valuable in supporting early social skills and language acquisition.
Remember developing your childs listening and hearing is key to them
being able to talk and use language. Develop this through stories and social opportunities.