Language is the core of our existence. Can we manage to do anything without it?
Language is not just about communicating. It’s a tool for thinking. Children are imaginative and love to explore their surroundings. By 6 months, children start babbling and mimicking adult speech. Like sponges, they absorb tons of information. All children grow at a different pace and meet milestones at various stages. Some sooner and some later.
The key factor in learning a language is adult interaction and conversations. Listening to babies, interacting with them, imitating their sounds, giving them eye contact and smiling helps them learn visual cues and turn-taking. TV nanny or screen time for babies has been a subject for psychologists and educators. The reason being, a TV is not interactive. It’s a one-way input and not recommended for babies for the intent of language development. By 18 months, children develop a decent vocabulary. They understand and make connections with words like bye-bye, and dada. They start giving their specific names to things that they need.
Here are a few tips for parents to successfully boost language development.
1. Talk, talk, talk! :
Children, like sponges, absorb things from their surroundings. Multilingual children can learn both languages simultaneously much faster till age 5 as opposed to learning a new language when they are older. Talking to children enhances their vocabulary. Describe things in detail, talk about what’s happening and what’s to come. Adding excitement and expression to speech and keeping it positive and interactive.
2. Read to children
Educators cannot emphasize enough on reading to children. It’s a great bonding time. It is an excellent tool for developing expressive language and understanding of the text. When children listen to stories before they start to read, they are making meaning of the words they hear. Story discussions improve comprehension and conversation skills.
3. Rephrasing words:
From babbling to speech, children learn sounds and pronunciations, some words may not sound accurate but the parents understand the gist of it. No matter how cute it sounds, it’s not advisable to continue the baby talk and it’s not good to criticize your child’s articulation or speech. Rephrase the word or sentence. In time, the children learn how to say the words correctly.
4. Use screen time sparingly.
There are many programs these days that promote literacy in young children. Some contain rhymes and educational content. However, excessive use of screens and TV time is still not as valuable as a parent-child interaction and it’s bad for their eyes and creates focus related issues in growing children.
5. Make up stories:
Another great way to enhance language and vocabulary is through making up stories and imaginary scenarios. A child’s mind is full of wonder. Encouraging imaginative play will help them become creative and expressive as they grow up.
Last not least, don’t miss out on quality time with your child. Whether its grocery shopping trips, going to the park, or just being around the house together, keep the conversations going with adequate opportunities for children to express themselves openly and confidently.
— Nuvaira Dhedhi
Early Childhood Educator