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Supporting Language Development In The Early Years

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One key to helping your kids succeed in life is helping them develop their communication skills to the best of their ability. Difficulties with communication can cause people to struggle in life, and even the most basic tasks can be a challenge. So, it’s important to ensure that your child’s language development is on track, and you can help by simply doing a few activities with them.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of supporting language development in your child’s early years.

Why is speech and language development important?

Most people can’t imagine what it would be like to be unable to communicate. Honestly, we do tend to take our ability to communicate for granted sometimes. Imagine struggling to communicate even your most basic needs. This is why ensuring that you’re doing everything to help your child reach their milestones is important. A few other reasons why language development is important include the fact that:

  1. Proper speech and language development provides your child with a foundation for their future scholastic achievements. Before your kids can get the hang of reading and writing, they need to be able to communicate. Children learn by teachers relaying important information, which they need to be able to comprehend first.  Therefore, we can argue that your child’s early vocabulary is a good indicator of their later educational outcomes
  2. Language development supports your child over the development,  whether this be cognitive, relational, intellectual or emotional; you’ll find that communication is at the heart of almost everything we do
  3. Languages help us make sense of the world as they are tied to our thoughts. Being able to communicate your experiences properly helps you understand your situations better.  

How do I know if my child has a speech disorder?

Many things could cause children to develop a speech disorder, and they are a lot more common than you might assume. The causes of speech disorders often vary, including difficulties with learning, hearing, and cognition, as well as a lack of a good learning environment and little interaction with adults.  

Here are a few symptoms  to look out for if you are concerned that your child may have a language developmental issue: 

  • Your child is easily distracted, struggles to pay attention and maintain eye contact
  • Your child, at an appropriate age, struggles to perform simple tasks or carry out  simple instructions
  • Your child’s speech is extremely difficult to understand where; you might only be able to understand half of what they say
  • Your child is consistently making speech sound errors over a considerable amount of time and avoids conversation
  • Your child is not speaking at all at the age of 18 months and doesn’t understand speech
  • Your child struggles to recognise or label common objects
  • Your child struggles to learn nursery rhymes or simple songs and is disinterested in being read to 

Everyone is different, and therefore, it’s important to note that if your child isn’t meeting the milestones within a particular time, you don’t have to jump to the worst conclusion. But having a list of milestones to keep track of your child’s development is always a good idea. 

Should your child not be reaching their milestones and you’re worried that they might have a language development issue, consider taking your child to a specialised provider of audiology and speech pathology. Clinics like Hear & Say help with language development by providing the proper testing and a professional diagnosis. 

What strategies can I implement to support my child’s language development?

For those who are interested in giving their child the best head start in life regarding language and communication, here are strategies you can implement to support your child’s language development in the early years. 

  1. Create a language-rich environment

Creating a conducive space for learning is one of the best things you can do to support your child’s language development. You can do this by keeping spaces organised and clutter-free and keeping distracting noises to a minimum. It’s also a great idea to decorate the walls with intriguing, but not overwhelming, signs and posters. Best yet, I have plenty of books available. 

  1. Be the best role model

Kids learn by seeing and doing, and in their early years, the best teacher is always going to be you. Just by speaking to your child and communicating with them as much as possible, you’ll build their vocabulary and model good speech and language skills. 

When you’re modelling good language skills for your child, try to ensure that you’re speaking slowly, using short sentences, making eye contact and avoiding baby language as much as possible. Remember that communication is a two-way street, so make sure to listen to your child intently when they are trying to talk to you, give them the opportunity to respond to you and don’t interrupt them when they do. 

  1. Read to your child

One of the most effective ways to support your child’s early language development is to read to them. Point to the words as you read because this will help your little one link the spoken word to the written word. Also, ask some questions and talk about each page to encourage your child to speak. The easiest way to create interest in reading is by bringing the words to life, so don’t be afraid to use intonation, be dramatic and point to pictures while you’re reading. 

  1. Talk to each other

Even if your child isn’t able to talk yet, it’s still important to talk to them to assess their language development. This does take a bit of practice because, at first, it seems like you’re just talking to yourself the entire time, but trust us, your baby is taking in everything and learning how conversations work. 

  1. Play with your child

Never underestimate the power of play! Whether it’s guessing games like “I Spy” or “Who Am I?” or playing pretend, all these fun activities have a part to play in your child’s language development. 

  1. Sing to your child

Singing to your child is a surefire way to boost their language development. It supports their ability to differentiate sounds, broadens their vocabulary, improves their memory, and helps them recognise rhymes. 

Final Thoughts

Put your best foot forward when it comes to your child’s language development when they are young. It starts even before your little one can speak, so don’t underestimate how implementing these strategies as early as possible can play a part in enriching your child’s life. 

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