When a baby spits out that first word is when language starts developing right? WRONG! Language develops from day one. Babies learn to communicate with through a variety of ways including crying, cooing, babbling, grunting, reaching, pointing, facial expressions, body language, AND eventually words. Pay attention to how your baby is communicating with you and except whatever they are giving you, that’s what they know! When babies are responded to, however they are getting their point across, they feel respected and will be encouraged to communicate more and in other ways.
Language develops as you make your self available to your child’s communication in the following ways:
- Narrate – Talk, sing, read, repeat. The more words your child hears, the more his brain remembers. Don’t. Stop. Talking. Narrate your day-details, Sarah is getting in the tub, mommy is washing your arms and legs with soap and warm water. I am squeezing the yellow soap onto the sponge.
- Respond – Again, however your child is communicating with you, except that! And respond to it! Extend the learning to increase language skills. A 10 month old reaches for cup and grunts “mmmmaaaaa” Mom: “You are reaching for your cup, say “mmmmmilk”. Child responds with delight that you understand his needs, grunts “mmmmaaa” again, and reaches again. Give him the cup!
- Respect – Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer too. “Ready to go upstairs for a bath?” Toddler: “No.” Welll…….you asked. By respecting your child’s answers, just like you respond to their every communication, you are creating a positive relationship that you as the parent understand their wants and needs. When you respect their language, your child is encouraged to communicate with you more and often. Instead of asking a yes/no question, try giving a choice. “We are going upstairs, should we read a book or get in the bath?”
How can you encourage language development?
- Allow your child to answer for themselves. Even if there are no words yet, responding with a smile, a “googahhh”, a raspberry, or eye contact are all forms of communication (see above!).
- Read! Every day! Reading increases memory, builds vocabulary, and encourages listening skills. Provide books whenever you can. Place a board book on their high chair tray while you clean up lunch. Read a book during bath time. Have your partner read while you feed. Won’t sit still for a book? Let them run around, explore, and play while you read, they are listening!!!
- Be an expressionist! Don’t be afraid to be silly. Make facial expressions and hand gestures while speaking connects the dots between language and the brain.
- Repeat yourself, repeat songs, repeat books, you will get tired of hearing your own voice but repetition is the key to language development. Which is why you know every line to “My Heart Will Go On”. Thank you top 9 at 9.