A cup of positiviTEA and a playdate with...
Did you want to know more about how you can encourage your child's language skills
I met Doreen about a year ago at our hypnobirthing classes. We were both pregnant and enjoying the calming evenings of the weekly class. Since having the babies, we have met up regularly with the other girls, it’s so nice to see the group, we chat almost daily and to have that support from other mums, other friends to know we are all going through the same thing, in the good days and the bad is a great relationship to have!
Having spoken to Doreen more I discovered just exactly what she does, I find it so interesting and I wanted to share my findings with you! Whist we had a playdate we were chatting about her work.
Doreen is a Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist, she works in the community, in health centres, pre-schools and schools. Children and their parents are referred to her mainly by the HV.
Doreen has a wealth of knowledge and experience, we chat about play, and how important it is to let babies and children explore, whilst you are playing with your child you could point out what they are playing with, by name.
Keeping it simple will help encourage a baby to listen and copy words. This reminds me a bit like catchphrase to ‘say what you see’
Did you know that it can take (generally those that find learning language tricky) a child at least 200 times to hear a word in order to copy and say it. So repetition is really important for children to learn language.
There are some normal language development stages that all children go through, which may mean they say a word slightly differently or a sound in an odd way. This could be ok, it is worth keeping an eye on, and maybe looking in if it carries on. But checking out the developmental milestones for language and speech sound development is a good way of keeping in touch, so that you have realistic expectations. A good resource is http://www.talkingpoint.org.uk/ and look for your childs age and stage.
There are many ways to promote your child’s language development from an early age, and as Doreen reassured me they are the simplest things to do, anyone can do it and everyone is able to…
…be there for your baby; play and interact with them, label the toys they play with.
But please make sure if you are going to ‘teach’ them anything, be sure they know how to ask for their needs to be met; how to ask for a drink, food, nappy change, who they would like to play with, and teach them their names. Imagine you are in a country where people don’t speak your language – what would you wish you had learned before travelling?
Beware of the language you are using, making sure you don’t ask too many questions and rather state what you are doing. When your child is a little older you could start using simple questions with a two-choice answer to give your child some independence.
In the days of fast technology many online companies are trying to sell their products to be able to teach and aid your child’s language development. But research has proven that a child can’t copy from a screen, they don’t get the facial expressions, the mouth shape or the context of the words. So, remember some games and TV programmes may be fun, but don’t forget to have conversations with your baby and child.
Another great tip from Doreen is to read at least one story a day, imagine how their mind will grow by the time they are 5 with all those stories! And don’t worry you don’t always need to read the words, explain what you can see in the picture, describe the picture using age appropriate language. We have a snug corner for reading. I have books available to Baby F all the time and we do sit and read them, only a few, but I will keep it in mind to aim for 5 in the day- We have the same bedtime story, which I’ve heard is a good routine for bedtime.
Rhyming books are great to have (I do love a rhyming book!) The concept of rhyme, and syllables are important for a child to learn to really listen to the words and how to put a word together. This is a game that Doreen plays with the older children in her sessions – clapping to identify the syllables in a word. Nursery Rhymes are equally great to join in with, gestures and words together help a child learn.
A big help that you can give your child is to teach them baby sign, in whatever form is comfortable for you, but giving a gesture to a word can help encourage children to learn their language, making sure you always say the word along with the same sign.
We have been signing for ‘milk’ ‘more’ ‘all done’ to name a few, I’m excited to learn some more and see how her language develops. She is very vocal at the moment and has a certain word for the ‘dog’ which she welcomes her with each morning!
In her classes, Doreen works with the parents to help their child, she will give them some recommendations and activities to complete in the time between sessions. Only by having regular encouragement will help all to learn and develop.
The understanding, games and strategies Doreen shares are some of the ones I have shared today.
For more information please visit www.talkingpoint.org.uk