We are so happy to be continuing our ABCs of Development series today with a guest post for the letter T – for Talking – from our friend Alison, Speech Language Pathologist and creator of an awesome website called Chirpy Chatterbox.
Alison provides quick and effective tips on how to promote early language development through music, laughter, and play. She is also the author of a series of ebooks, downloads and freebies filled with fun activities and information related to early language building in infants and toddlers. Take it away Alison!
Even though it seems so natural to most children, talking and learning to talk is actually a fascinating and complex process in which many systems of the body work together to achieve a common goal.
Talking involves conceiving an idea, formulating a message, and articulating that message. But talking is only one of the ways that we communicate with others and convey our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. There are other forms of communication like nonverbal communication (facial expression and gestures, for example) that aid us in expressing our message. When we are using these forms of communication to express a message, this is called: expressive language.
Before learning to use words to speak, a baby might express himself through crying, cooing and babbling. As a baby nears his/her first birthday, words will likely begin to emerge. As children grow, their speech typically becomes more complex and easier to understand (the ability to produce speech sounds is called articulation).
It is common for young children to know and understand many more words than they can say (being able to understand what others are saying is called receptive language), so it is important to support their growing ability to express themselves through words.
Here are a few fun and quick ways to encourage your child’s ability to communicate through talking:
1 || Start conversations with your child by making observations about the world around you and asking questions (you could ask a question and listen for her response, if your child does not respond, you could verbally model what they could say to answer the question. e.g. “How are you feeling today?” Pause. If no response – “You are smiling. You look happy!”).
2 || Listen to your child’s communication (whether it’s cooing, babbling, sign language, talking, etc.) and acknowledge their message by responding in an enthusiastic way that helps them achieve what they were trying to communicate .
3 || Tap into the senses, talking about what your child is perceiving through each of his sensory systems at any given moment for lots of conversation topics.
4 || Read with your child and let your child read to you (this might look like a baby babbling along as you read, a toddler describing/ labeling the pictures in the book, or an older child reading and then retelling the story).
5 || Sing to your child and let them sing to you!
For more fun activities to build early communication skills, download our free E-book, “Language Building Tips for Babies, Toddlers, and Beyond” here!
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language development, visit: Chirpy Chatterbox Milestones Page.
*Note: Keep in mind that all children develop at their own pace and are unique and special. On the other hand, it is very important to seek help as early as possible if you feel your child is delayed in one or more areas of development (ask your pediatrician for a referral to a Speech Language Pathologist if you have concerns about communication development). Click here to find a local SLP. The above information is for educational purposes only and does not replace speech and language evaluation and/or treatment.