Communication is important to enjoy life and language is an important aspect of communication. This language develops through a series of processes. Children normally start speaking their first word around the age of 12 months. Before that, children begin communicating via behaviors like crying, pointing, body language and eye contact. Positively reinforcing these behaviors will aid in progression of advanced language skills. These behaviors progress into expanded vocabulary, phrases, sentences and narration as the child grows.
All learnt behaviors, including language, are part of the typical course of development and most children develop language naturally. However, people around children can significantly contribute to this skill development. Parents are most often the first language teachers of a child. The following points may help in understanding how to make the interaction with your child more effective.
- Have fun together: Do not be shy to imitate baby sounds! Singing together, making sounds, using actions, a little exaggerated inflection – all these help you grab your child’s attention. At the same time, it will also encourage language development because they begin imitating sounds, learn new words.
- When they listen without effort, they grasp: When you talk to your child, make sure that you are audible. Minimizing the background noises or other distractions will also help your child listen and learn better.
- Use simple language: Be mindful to use simple sentences and short phrases. Children have short attention span and can get distracted easily. Using simple language will help you introduce language and will also make it easier for them to retain in memory or imitate.
- When you imitate them, they learn: Repeat the sounds or words they make, interpret what they are trying to say. Put it out in real words or phrases and highlight the target word/ phrase.
- Talk, explain, comment!: Indulge in conversing manner with children during activities. When you are doing something together, talk about what you are doing. Comment about every action, label all objects being used.
- They need time to think: Children take time to process what is heard. They listen, make sense of it and decide on a reaction. While you are waiting for them to respond, look at them to make it obvious.
- Respond when they try: Children are always trying and learning. Positively encouraging their attempts will motivate them to try more. Limit your urge to push them or instantaneously correct them. Instead, be more appreciative and show them the right way to say it. Be careful to eliminate negative talk.
- Speak your language: A child’s brain is like a sponge. It can absorb many things during the early years of life. So, you do not have to worry about exposing your child to multiple languages. Speak to your child in the native language. He /she will anyway pick up other languages from the community or school.
- Take turns: When you indulge in conversation, you need to take turns. Making your child understand this is vital because it is one of the important pragmatic skills. You say something, wait for your child to respond, then react to what your child says.
- Acknowledge & Expand: When they say something, appreciate and then build on it. If they speak in a word, highlight what they have just said and build it into a phrase/ sentence. Add on more information in simple language.
Check out the link for ideas here – ‘Holidays and Language Stimulation‘