How to Foster Good Language Skills Beginning at Infancy
Children develop their language and speech skills at different rates. While your first child may have been an early talker, your second child might not have much to say. Also, keep in mind that a child’s various skills don’t develop at the same rates, so while you may have an early walker, that same child may be slightly delayed in language or developmental milestones. All of that being said, there are some easy habits to implement in your everyday life, starting at infancy to help foster strong speech and language development when it does happen.
Narrate: Whatever you are doing or seeing, narrate it to your little one. Giving them a bath, getting them dressed, running errands, should all be talked about while it is happening.
Respond: When a baby makes a sound, respond. Talkback, mimic them and pretend to have a conversation.
Infer: Say what you think your baby is trying to say with his/her sounds. Describe feelings and experiences to your baby. When they are hungry, put a word to it. Describe what you are feeding to them and talk about being hungry too.
Read: Read every single day to your child. Let them hold the book, look at pictures and turn pages as they are able. Don’t just read the words, but do it with a variety in your tone and intonation to match what is happening the story. Also, describe what you are seeing in the pictures while pointing.
Music: Listen to music together. Sing along with children’s songs. Sing to your baby making up songs about what you are doing.
Gesture: Non-verbal language is as important as verbal. Use gestures, and facial expressions to match what you are saying. Encourage your baby to mimic you.
Mimic: Play mimicking games. Whether it is repeating sounds or words after each other or other movements, babies learn from observation and mimicking.
Count items and point out colors to build their early vocabulary and help them begin to associate meanings to words.
Speak clearly: Babies learn from mimicking. Make sure you speak clearly when talking to your child beyond game time.
Don’t Criticize Articulation: When your child mispronounces a word, as most do when they are first beginning to talk, do NOT criticize them. Confidence is important for practicing speech and language skills. Simply repeat the word back to them with correct pronunciation and a positive tone.
Hearing: Be aware of your child’s hearing. If ear infections occur, treat them fully. If there is any suspicion they are not hearing well, have them screened for hearing problems. Hearing has everything to do with speech and language.
While this is not a complete list of how to foster strong language skills in your child, these habits are a great start. Constant talking and reading are vital. Please give us a call if you have any questions about your child’s speech and language skills. 704-845-0561