Early language development – how to support your child

Early language development – how to support your child

Language Building Skills Language Development Reading

Literacy (reading) skills are important for a child’s early language development, social communication, and academic success. Before a child can pick up a book and decode the words on a page into something meaningful, they must first develop an understanding of what written language is and how it is used throughout their environment. Logos, signs, and labels may be teaching your child how to read without you even realizing it. Preschoolers also learn early concepts of literacy by watching their caregivers interact with written language. These first steps in learning to read are called emergent literacy skills. While you may already be teaching these skills in your day to day life, here are some other ways we can support literacy.

One important skill for early language development literacy is understanding that sounds can be manipulated in order to become words, which is known as phonological awareness. You can support your preschooler’s phonological awareness by talking about and teaching different speech sounds during shared reading activities.

Another skill that helps support reading is print awareness. When children  demonstrate they understand the logos, signs, and labels in their environment have meaning, they are showing  they have print awareness. Print awareness also involves holding a book upright and knowing that the words on the page tell a story. Even before they are able to read the words, encouraging your child to follow the words with their finger from left to right while  reading to them will support print awareness. It is also beneficial to discuss the physical parts of the book, who is the author and who is the illustrator.

Alphabet knowledge, or the understanding that letters represent sounds and letters can be grouped together to become words, is another skill that we can teach while reading together. There are many children’s books about the alphabet, but you can identify individual letters anywhere and talk about the sound that it makes.

Finally, oral language skills are needed for early language development and reading comprehension. Everytime you engage in conversation with your little ones, you are modeling oral language skills. Teaching new vocabulary is essential for oral language and early reading because while reading teaches vocabulary, some word knowledge is needed in the earliest stages of literacy.

Reading is a valuable skill to have throughout a child’s life that encourages children academically, socially, and creatively.  Children who learn to read early on are often more successful than their peers, and reading is also a source of knowledge. Reading also exposes children to new words and language uses. Books teach children about emotions and individual points of view. Appreciation of others thoughts and feelings will help children communicate and build relationships with peers. Of course, reading is also enjoyable and amplifies creativity.

Baby talk: does it help or hurt how your baby learns language?

Baby talk: does it help or hurt how your baby learns language?

Language Building Skills Language Development Parents' Corner

Often referred to as ‘baby talk’, Motherese (or Parentese or Fatherese) is a term used to describe the quality of speech caregivers often use when speaking to a newborn child. Using a higher pitch, more exaggerated articulation, and great facial expressions, we seem to naturally talk in this manner to babies.

Many have debated the importance or hindrance that use of baby talk has on a child’s speech and language development. Some parents believe that baby talk is an important first step in teaching a child to talk and some believe that using baby talk limits a child’s language comprehension. Researchers have conducted studies to find an answer. While modeling adult language is beneficial to a child’s speech and language development, baby talk has withstood the test of time and been a useful tool in creating a bond between an infant and their parent. This attachment helps a child learn to develop relationships with others throughout life. Babies from many different cultures around the world, speaking many different languages have shown interest in this quality of speech as it grabs their attention. This type of interaction can also give an infant their first experience with social cues such as turn taking and eye contact, and speech sounds.

Within the first days of life, a baby’s brain has remarkable neuroplasticity, meaning they can create new neural connections quickly and absorb new information like a sponge. As they experience their first sights, smells, and sounds, they make many first impressions that are everlasting. Studies have shown that babies often learn to recognize and prefer the sound of their caretaker’s voice. Although researchers have not been able to identify whether it’s more beneficial to use adult speech right from the start, use of brain scanning technology has allowed us to see the reactions infants have to adults using baby talk in their native language as well as foreign languages. This TED talk by Patricia Kuhl discusses one of these studies.

Remember- there is no clearly defined right or wrong style of parenting or teaching. If you are a new parent, no matter how you choose to speak to your child, just make sure you do it! Even when you are not speaking directly to an infant, they’re constantly taking in information and making connections. Whether by choice or instinct, if you do use motherese with your child, it is recommended that this type of speech be weaned off as the child reaches toddlerhood and begins develop speech and language skills.

More resources to check out:

ASHA: How Babies Form Foundations for Language 

TED: The Surprisingly Logical Minds of Babies

Photo credit: www.prettymomguide.com

6 First Chapter Books Your Kids Will Beg to Read

6 First Chapter Books Your Kids Will Beg to Read

Language Building Skills

The benefits of reading aloud are many: It’s an excellent way to build vocabulary and speech, which will set your child up for future successes in school and life. It encourages imagination. It’s practically free. And it’s incredibly entertaining. Before long you’ll be onto your first chapter books.

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Fun Toddler Language Learning Activities

Fun Toddler Language Learning Activities

Language Building Skills Language Development

We often get the question posed to us, “how can I help my toddler to talk?” The short is answer is blunt and very obvious: talk to your child! That’s right, just make sure you are directly engaging your toddler in a wide variety of activities that are rich in language. At a high level, it really is that simple! This is a recommendation that is rooted in reams of research in the field of speech-language pathology and allied disciplines. However, just hearing from me, “talk to your child!” might leave you frustrated and wanting more: how do talk to my child? What are some fun toddler language learning activities that are best for this? This blog post is dedicated to providing some guidelines and tips for making this happen. It is one of the most important things you can do as parent of young child and it can have a positive impact on not only language development, but also on future academic potential and even on emotional development.

photo: Happy Kids and Orange Bird by Sam Howzit

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Strange Sounds Around the World — Explained!

Strange Sounds Around the World — Explained!

Language Building Skills

Geek-Out Alert! This post is where the geeks glove come off, as they say. I am about to becoming an unapologetic, unabashed geek about one of my all time favorite topics: the crazy sounds of the world’s languages. As you might imagine the clinical founder of Speech Buddies, a revolutionary, evidence-based tool set for treating speech sound disorders, has a deep interest in phonetics. Phonetics is the branch of the social science of linguistics that studies how sounds are produced, where the tongue is placed, how it moves during speech and how the air flow is shaped. I will come out right now and admit that on down time, when my kids are asleep and I finally have an hour to myself, I will actually listen to clips of speakers of some of the world’s most fascinating and (let’s call them crazy) languages. I wanted to share some of these exquisite examples of the human sound production system and perhaps to spark an interest in you for yet another wonder of nature.

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Easy and Effective Ways to Build Reading Skills

Easy and Effective Ways to Build Reading Skills

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Ways to Build a Better Reader

Easy and Effective Ways to Encourage Reading. Image Courtesy of parents.com

Build Reading Skills. Studies have shown that the most enthusiastic and voracious readers received early introduction to reading at home. Encourage your child to make reading a part of every day life by adding a few simple steps to your daily routine. If you are modeling reading at home, it’s likely your child will follow your footsteps and learn to love to read. Of course, they don’t need to read the Wall Street Journal, but by offering a wide variety of reading material around the house, your child will be encouraged to pick up a book and start making reading a habit.
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5 Best Apps for Building Language and Speech

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Our Five Favorite Apps to Help Build Language and Speech Skills

Apps for Building Language Skills Are An Excellent Addition to Your Tablet or Smart Phone.

How do you find apps for your kids that are not only fun, but provide the necessary tools to build language and speech skills? The first years of a child’s life are the most important part of developing speech, language and cognitive skills. It’s important for parents to create activities to help develop these language skills by providing stimulation and creating opportunities to foster these developing language skills. Downloadable apps are an excellent way to build language skills and engage your child. And, apps make a great Christmas gift!

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Toys and Games Designed to Help Increase Vocabulary and Build Language Skills

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Toys Can Be Excellent Building Blocks to Increase Vocabulary

Toys Can Be Excellent Building Blocks to Increase Vocabulary

It’s that time of year again! Everywhere you look is another advertisement for yet another toy that your child MUST have!  Barbie, Play Dough, Nintendo Wii, Lego sets…these are always great gifts that most children will love. But, what about toys that are fun for kids and can help build language skills and increase vocabulary at the same time?  Is that even possible? The answer is yes. But will the kids enjoy these toys? Again, the answer is YES, and you may be surprised that some very famous toys are actually excellent language building blocks.

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Tips for Building Early Language Skills with Your Child

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child reading with mom

Reading with your child is one of the best ways to help build language skills. Source: news.appstate.com

Mama!  Dada!! Like many parents, you have likely been waiting months for your child to finally say a real word!  Sure, the grunts, pointing and babbling sounds are cute, but that moment your child utters her first word is priceless!   Once the first word is spoken however, there is no turning back. What was once a semi-peaceful trip to the grocery store is now filled with endless, “Ball”, “Mama”, “Apple”, “Want Dat”.  Car rides are no longer excuses to escape with Adam Levine.  Instead the sounds of “Stop,” “Go”, “Car”, “Fire Truck” are yelled triumphantly and continuously from the back seat. Are there ways in which parents can start building speech and language skills early?  How early is too early?
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