The initial years of a child’s life are vital for the development of language, speech and cognitive skills. It’s imperative to create and promote activities for children which will help the same.
There are certain ways through which I feel, we as mothers can help our children build their language.
1. Good Modeling
During baby development, an infant learns new words and sounds by just listening to the ones within his environment. It is very important; we provide them with good speech. Speak slowly, with clarity and a lot of intonation. Correcting your child for a wrong attempt at pronunciation is a no-no. Instead, praise them for the effort and repeat the word to acknowledge understanding.
2. Symbolic Sounds and Motivating sound games
Symbolic sounds are short, mostly one syllable sounds and words easily introduced like the ‘beep’ of a bus and the ‘moo’ of a cow. These sounds boost vocalization, imitation and early vocabulary, also defining basic understanding of routine language.
A simple sound game which we can play with our children is- The game- ready…steady…Go! It can be used to move a kids’ toy car. After communicating the idea, one has to pause after ‘ready…steady’ and the child will automatically say ‘Go!’
3. Communication temptations and using everyday activities as a language learning opportunity
Motivating your child with something tempting to evoke speech is important. Holding on to a balloon and not letting go unless the child mouths a request is great to learn to use voice as a request tool in speech development.
A prosaic activity can be transformed into a delightful one thanks to imagination. Bath time can be used for learning by introduction to words like water, towel and soap. We can also use bath time for singing songs. This provides a child with an exposure of lot of new words.
4. Listening, attention and observation
The building blocks of language development are listening and attention skills. The best way to comply them is by curtailing time on television and increasing the level of social interaction among children.
Observation skills necessitate the child to focus on a particular task. These are sharpened as a shared activity at a table-top.
5. Games & Role Play
Simple games can be played in the car, at the mall or in the park and not necessarily in a structured environment. The environment however, has an impact on learning, so try and reduce background noises like the television.
Toys have to be selected according to age specifications but fun activities can be created with the most basic toy for language development.
Role play can involve activities like a bus driver driving, a fireman dousing fire or dressing a . This enhances language skills and fuels imagination. I use this technique with my niece, whenever I am visiting her.
6. Add language
Adding to existing language is a must for vocabulary expansion. ‘Fast car’ or ‘yellow car’ is a feasible reply when the child says ‘car.’
7. Books and Music
Initially, books are lovely for learning new words and a shared focus. They enhance vocabulary and literacy skills later. There’s nothing better than reading to children.
Music strengthens listening skills, shared focus and also has a therapeutic effect. Some songs can be sung with actions which provide a vital link between words and action.
The following add-ons are recommended for our children to strengthen their speech development and build their language skills-
- Introduce our little ones to animal sounds.
- Imitate a baby’s laugh and facial expressions.
- Having baby imitate actions like clapping of hands and throwing kisses.
- Counting items and identifying colors.
- Using gestures like waving goodbye to help convey meaning.