Tag Archives: speech development in children

Helping to develop your child’s speech and vocabulary

The first five years in our lives are the prime time for learning to talk. Most of a child’s language comes from the adults around them. The more time that is spent talking with our children, the more we enable them to develop the listening, concentration and talking skills they need. Toddlers often start off talking in their own little way and only you and those closest to them can understand them. (Personally I LOVE, TOTALLY AND UTTERLY ADORE IN FACT, THIS STAGE. We’ve been going through it with our youngest who is just 2 and a half. Ahhh, soooo cute and adorable  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ) Suddenly, they progress to saying the odd word clearly and it snowballs from there….

Reading to and with your child is a really useful, easy, enjoyable tool in helping your child’s vocabulary. At first children repeat words without really understanding their meaning. They are just making sounds, but this is good fun for them and helps the process of learning to talk. They are exercising their vocal cords and strengthening them all the time…. As your child grows, they will be understanding new words and phrases more. This will make reading more and more fun for all involved. Listening and talking go hand in hand – the more your child listens to you read and talk, the more they will try to reply and join in. It may also take longer to read each book, as you/they may want to go over your/their favourite bits again, or have another look if something is not fully understood.

Show your child that you enjoy reading too whether it be a book, a magazine or a newspaper – you are their role model and now is the time to help guide them to their full potential. It is good for children to see that book and reading are used on a daily basis and valued and appreciated in their home. Of course, there will always be some children who just don’t like books and reading naturally. It can’t be forced or they will lose interest even more. If this is the case, don’t push it. Our 2 and a half year old is currently NOT interested in being read to at all, compared to his almost 11 year old sister who could never get enough of being read to and is now a totally dedicated ‘bookworm’ 🙂 He does occasionally ask me to read to him and brings a book over (he has access to heaps of toddler friendly books, a lot of them I kept from his sister), but as soon as I start reading he asks me to stop within a few sentences lol.

Children build up their vocabulary over time and then start joining words up to make little phrases – before long you will be having a conversation. Well, a very ‘little’ conversation at the very least….

RELATED:
Ideas on book sharing with your children
Using books to help toddlers learn to express themselves
Extending Children’s Vocabulary with Picture Books and Stories
Taking books out and about
Reading with toddlers and children
Remembering and joining in with stories

Children and Speech Development

Long before children are able to talk coherently, they have been listening to and absorbing EVERYTHING they hear. Often we, especially the parents, aren’t even aware that a child is doing so. Or we think they are too young to understand anyway… Once they start talking however this becomes apparent.

It is strongly advisable NOT to talk with babys/toddlers in baby talk, or treat them like they are somehow below us. We need to talk to our children with respect and with clear and precise vocabulary, paying particular attention to the pronunciation of words, not swallowing or missing out letters. If you want your child to be well spoken then you must set a good example and talk with your child exactly as you want to be spoken to and exactly as you would like them to speak. (The same applies to behaviour as well. Behaviour breeds behaviour! If you are positive, the child will be. If you are negative, likewise the child will be!). This all must be done earlier than perhaps previously deemed necessary. Babies, even before birth, can hear what is going on in the outside world and this adds to their language skills. This continues to play an important role in the child’s experience in the first months and years ahead. At this age children show an unearthly ability to absorb language in all its complexities, and not just one language! A child is greatly helped in the development of good language skills by being included in our conversation from the very beginning. We must listen and speak respectfully with our children from birth on. The way we talk with one another is also important. We need to set good examples. A child’s spoken language is generally the foundation for their later ability in reading and writing. Obviously there are those who can talk amazingly yet struggle with spelling. The pleasure and fun of exploring language begins early, and is the most intense, in the first three years of life.

Listen to your child

The attention we give a child when he first begins to talk to us is important. I love the stage of them talking when no one but you and close relatives/friends can understand them. This hasn’t happened with our 2 children (age 10 and 2), but occasionally children can become so excited about their ability to talk and being able to express themselves that they stutter. This is a very natural stage when learning to talk. It is signal for the adult to stop, listen and look the child in they eyes, giving their offspring their full attention. Missing words should NOT be supplied. The stutter should NOT be commented on. A child that feels listened to in a respectful manner generally calms down and develops the ability to speak more clearly..

Your Help

To be successful in language a child needs confidence that what they have to say is important, a desire to relate to others, real experience on which language is based, and the physical abilities necessary in reading and writing.

A child’s language development will be aided and enriched by providing a richly stimulating environment, with plenty of sensory experiences. Language is meaningless if it is not based on experience.

Experiencing real objects should come before pictures or names of these objects whenever possible. E.g. if you have a new book with pictures of fruits and vegetables, let the child handle, smell, cut up, and taste a piece of fruit. Then go and look at a picture of it, and other fruits, in the book. The intelligence is then founded on first hand experience. Like our 22 month old son (and his big sister years before him) would spend ages looking at them chunky small books with an animal per page, you know the type. The animals he had never seen in real life he would brush over quite quickly, but would linger on animals he knew from experience like bunnies, dogs, cats, cows etc. Then one day after going to the zoo and seeing a zebra/giraffe etc for real he was suddenly totally interested in these pictures too.

Children want to learn the name of every object in their environments, and the meanings of the words that are heard. Children are so eager to be able to communicate about daily life with their family and others they know! Name everything in sight, whether in the home or out of the home, to your child, point, clearly pronounce the word(s) of kitchen objects, toys, food, vehicles, trees, ants, butterflies, flowers, clouds, airplanes, glasses, cups, cutlery, crockery, electrical items, cats, horses, cushions, blankets, pillows, pictures, jewellery items, clothing items, dogs, etc.

If you are bilingual (like my family) speak your 2nd language with them ALL THE TIME. They will pick English up from everyone else around them.

On a final note – Remember: Children are ALWAYS Listening

Related link – Extending Children’s Vocabulary with Picture Books and Stories