Language is vital. It allows a child to not only communicate with others but to think to himself. It’s the primary toll for learning, as well as for creativity.
This natural evolution takes place on an individual timetable. From the cradle, some babies spend more time trying to engage those around them in social exchanges than they do trying to master physical feats and, as a result. They’re usually early talkers. For others, physical challenges consume more time and attention. These babies are often too busy rolling over, pulling up, climbing, and talking steps to focus on communicating. They’ll tackle verbal skills later on in the second and this years, when their fast-talking peers will be focusing on any physical kills they’ve neglected.
No matter what timetable they’re running on, however, children learn to speak faster with a little help. Here are some guidelines for providing such help:
- Expand experiences. Long before toddler begin speaking, they build up receptive vocabularies, storing words and concepts in their heads. This mean that children understand many words and concepts before using them in speech. So expose your toddler to a wide variety of environments (the supermarket, playground, library, museums, buses, boatyards, farms) and talk about what you about see using simple language. Follow up a new experience with a library book that reinforce it: reading a book about the zoo (‘remember the monkey we say?’) after a visit, for instance, will enhance leaning. Build your toddler’s gasp of simple concepts (big and little, wet and dry, up and down, in and out, full and empty, standing and sitting happy and sad, light and dark, good and sad), and cause-and-effect (we put water on the burner and it gets cold we put it in the freezer and it freeze hard). And regularly stimulate the senses, talking about the colors, textures, sounds and smell found in your child’s environment.
- Talk, talk, talk. For children to use language, they must first understand language. And to understand language, child must hear it spoken – over and over again. To get your child to talk, you’ve got to talk. So keep talking, even if you feel silly holding a one-sided conversation, even if you sense that your toddler doesn’t have the slightest notion about what you’re saying. On a stroll to the park, remark on the blue sky, the red car, the girls playing ball, the man pushing the baby buggy. While you’re cooking dinner, give your toddler a blow-by-blow account as you cut the carrots, stir the soup, slice the tomatoes. When you’re waiting in line at the bank, give your toddler a running account of people remaining in front of you, counting down as you move up. When dressing your child in the morning, name his or her body parts as you uncover or cover them; identify each piece of clothing and its colour and texture.But don’t get carried away, chattering on endlessly just for the sake of exposing your child to language. Children also need periods of quiet contemplation, a chance to listen to themselves instead of others, to observe what’s around them without the help of a tour guide. When you’re being turned out (the eyes are turned elsewhere or glazed), turn it off. There’s such a thing as auditory overload.
- Read, read, read. Reading to your child from picture books – stopping to point out familiar objects in each picture and explain what is going on in the story – provides invaluable exposure to language. Stick to simple stories at first, and to ear-catching rhymes. Toddlers love to hear the same books over and over-again, perhaps because they inherently recognize the value of repetition as a way of learning.
- Sing, sing, sign. Children naturally love music and will play close attention to simple songs. Sing them a cappella or along with a CD or an instrument, if you play one, such as a piano or guitar. In particular, toddlers enjoy songs that include hand clapping or finger play (such as ‘Patty-cake’ and ‘the Itsy Bitsy Spider’). Again, repetition helps a toddler vocabulary grow, so don’t hesitate to sing the same songs over and over. (You probably will be urged to, anyway, whether you like it or not.)And don’t worry about your signing ability (or lack of it); your toddler will gladly lend an ear, even if you do sing out of tune.
- Label, label, label. There are thousands of words in the English language, and your toddler has to learn them once at a time. The best way to teach them is through labeling. Label things you see on the street (truck, bicycle, traffic light, man, woman, dog), at home (table, chair, sofa, juice, cup, spoon), while reading (cow, girl, farm, duck, frog). Once you’ve named an object, encourage your toddler to repeat it. (‘This is a book. Can you say “book”?’)
- Sound like a grown-up. Out of the mouths of babes (or rather, toddlers) come some of the cutest words: sketti (spaghetti), ta-too (thank you), ba bo (apple). The temptation is great to mimic these adorable utterances when conversing with your toddler, but hearing you use baby talk may confuse your toddler and won’t help his or her language development. Using such diminutives as ‘doggy’, however, shouldn’t be a problem.
- Lend an ear. Toddlers love chattering to themselves as they play and don’t require a full-time audience. But when they direct their chatter at someone else, they (like anyone else) need to feel they’re being listened to. When your toddler addresses you, give him the respectful attention he deserves. Don’t pick up the phone, turn to speak your husband, continue to read the newspaper or watch TV or walk into the next room. Stop, make eye contact, and listen, even if you don’t completely understand what’s being said.
- Sharpen her ear. Sharpening your toddler’s authority acumen will help him with deciphering the nuances of language. Listening to conversations is important, but so is listening to the birds singing, the telephone ringing, the buzzer buzzing, to sirens and running water. Point out these sounds and listen to them together.
- Speak when you’re spoken to. Even if you don’t have the slightest idea of what your toddler has just said, you can respond with, ‘Hmm, that’s very interesting’ or ‘Is that so?’ But before you write off what your toddler is saying as gibberish, try to read body language, facial expressions, and other visual clues. If he’s headed for the door, sweater in hand, an appropriate response might be: ‘Would you like to go out? We’ll be going out in a few minutes.’ Is she rubbing her eyes and whining? Then try, ‘Are you tired? Do you want to take a nap now?’ Is he gesturing or pointing at the refrigerator while talking? If so, ask, ‘Do you want a drink? Do you want a piece cheese?Sometimes you’ll guess right, and even if you don’t, your child will be delighted that you responded. When you just don’t get it, there are may be frustration and tears. Either way, immediate feedback will provide your toddler with the motivation to keep speaking.
- Provide air time. Sometimes young children don’t speak because they aren’t given the opportunity – either because their needs are anticipated before they express them, or because everyone around them need is always talking, hogging the air time. So be careful to leave an occasional opening for your littlest conversationalist. Eventually, it will get filled.
- Once more, with feeling. Repeating what your toddler says in other words, (‘You want milk?’ Yes, that Is a doggy.‘ ‘You want to go out?’) Does double duty. It shows you understood what he or she said and also gives you an opportunity to correct mispronunciation in a natural, nonjudgmental way. Using an animated, conversational tone of voice, with plenty of rises and falls, help to maintain interest.
- Ask away. Researchers have found that even before toddlers are capable of supplying answer, asking them question is one of the best way to sput their language development. A good way to begin is to give a youngster who has few words but can shake yes, nod no, grunt, and point the opportunities to give these simple responses (‘Do you want your snack now?’ ‘Show me which book you want to read?’).
- Get your words’ worth. When you speak to your toddler, try to use each word in several ways. ‘See the bicycle? The boy is on the bicycle. The boy is riding the bicycle.’ Or ‘Look at that bird is flying high in the sky.’ Do the same when he speaks a word, flower is pretty. The flower smells so good (Sniff.) Do you like flowers?’ Expand and elaborate by adding descriptive adjective (the furry dog’, ‘the big book’, the funny songs’) and a verbs (‘he’s waking fast’, ‘they are talking loudly’, ‘she’s eating slowly’).
- Keep it simple. Few young toddler can follow long complicated sentences, comprehend all pronounces, and make sense out of irregular verbs. They also tend to get lost when words come at them fast and furious. Could you understand a movie spoken in French with just a year of secondary-school French under your belt? Remember, your toddler has had only one year of English. Speaking distinctly, audibly, slowly ad simply makes it easier for a toddler to catch on to meanings and language mechanics – and, eventually, to parrot back speech.
- Act as translator. Though you may not always understand your toddler as well as you’d like to, you probably understand him or her better than anyone else does. So step in as interpreter in your toddler’s verbal exchanges with other, translating what they say into language your toddler can more readily understand and translating (to the best of your ability) what your toddler says in response. But don’t step in unless it’s clear that you’re needed; let the communicators have a chance to understand each other on their own first.
- Support free speech. Don’t be tempted to turn your toddler into your very own Eliza (or Ezra) Doolittle. Your job is to encourage, not push. Besides anything that toddler feel external pressure it do, they feel internal pressure to resist – speaking include. When your child is ready, thatspigot of speech will open – and it’s likely to flow freely.Remember the toddlers do the best they can with pronunciation, pronouns, plurals and other rules of grammar. It will take several years before your toddler comes close to getting it ‘right’. Your craping and correcting not only won’t help, it may hurt. Although your should use correct pronunciations when you repeat a misspoken word or explain that the animal jumping over the moon is a cow and not a dog, your tone should be friendly and supportive, not critical. You shouldn’t penalize your child for incorrect usage or for nonverbal requests (‘Sorry , you can’t have that doll unless you ask for it correctly!’). Children who learn to anticipate criticism every time they speak often just decide not to say anything. Your toddler will learn best by hearing the correct speech of others in an easygoing atmosphere.Remember, too, that your toddler may often hear and repeat words that he or she doesn’t fully understand. ‘I promise’ from a toddler probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. It isn’t until the school years that you can count on children to say what they mean and mean what they say.
- Be a cheerleader. When your toddler says a word you understand or points to the dog in the book and remarks, ‘Woof-woof’, be sure to reinforce positively with a few words of praise (‘Very good! That is a dog.’) Don’t go overboard with adulation, however, or he or she will begin to doubt your sincerity; even a toddler can figure out that being able to say ‘bottle’ or ‘out’, though an important step, isn’t the world’s greatest achievement . Some may be overwhelmed when their utterances are met by too much fanfare, and may choose to stop uttering.