Encouraging Language Development in Toddlers - Sherwood High Blog

Encouraging Language Development in Toddlers: Tips for Early Communication

Encouraging Language Development in Toddlers: Tips for Early Communication

Infants, by their very nature, constantly learn the language just by keeping their eyes and ears open

Creating an environment of engagement and creative expression helps toddlers pick up words from their parents and siblings

Language is intrinsic to being human. It is one of the ways that makes humans stand out among countless other species. Expressing complex thoughts and abstract ideas through a set of words constructed in a particular arrangement is a miracle gifted only to humans by the Almighty Creator.

Whatever be the tongue or dialect, whatever be the way of expression, whatever be the idioms, language is universal. Language helps us express a range of emotions, thoughts, ideas and concepts through the same set of words.

Languages have evolved over thousands of years, expressing the same ideas through different sounds as human beings dispersed to the far corners of the globe in search of better life.

Language has been central to the progress of humanity and to the expression of ideas that has helped humans thrive under different conditions.

The earliest language traditions have been oral and to this date the early language experience of a young human – a toddler – is indeed oral.

Natural way

The natural human way of learning is seeing and hearing. So obviously, infants by their very nature constantly learn just by keeping their eyes and ears open – seeing, observing, learning, imitating and growing.

From day one, all they do is see, hear and absorb. Their minds constantly feed on what they see as the norm. Gradually, as they grow they start copying and following what they see, hear and observe.

This is how they acquire most of their knowledge – they see, they hear and they do.

They pick your dialect, they pick your accent, they pick your behaviour, they develop similar tastes and habits.

Did you teach your children to speak? Did you teach them complex grammar? NO! How did they pick up your language?

Their mother tongue comes naturally to them, by way of absorbing the atmosphere. They are naturally endowed to pick on the words and match them with action through constant observation. They just try to repeat what they see regularly.

Indeed, some of them become so good that they come up with more complete sentences than the adults around them. They draw attention and inspire a sense of awe and wonder.

Diverse intellect

Language Development in Children - Sherwood High Blog

However, since human beings come in great variety, not all the toddlers will develop the language and expression at the same age or in the same pace.

Some will be quick to pounce on every word, others will take their own good time. This is not a sign of lack of intellect, but they are designed and wired differently. Not all of us have been designed to be equally expressive.

Each one of us are differently abled, endowed with the different ways of expression and different types of intellect. Hence, when we make assessment about our children it is essential to take into consideration this fact. Otherwise, we are likely to become a hindrance in their path of growth rather than becoming an aide.

As our children grow up, their exposure expands and they start experiencing more than what their families have to offer them. This is essential to their development, collecting more words, expressions and ideas. However, this is also a tricky period as external influence may not always be good.

Nonetheless, this is inevitable. With time, they are exposed to new sources of information and influence. They start learning from friends, cartoons, fictional characters, social media, movie stars etc.

Early sounds

On an average, toddlers generally start making some noises around the age of five to six months and by age of eight to nine months they start mumbling a few broken words here and there. But, there is an exception to this. Some children might be naturally slow in picking up words and this should not be a reason for worry immediately.

We cannot and should not try to force words in the children’s mouth. When their time comes, they will naturally pick on the words.

In many cases, you will come across children who remain mute for the first couple years of their lives and all of sudden start speaking fluently as if they had always been talking. This shows that there is no set, universal pattern on how children start speaking. The pattern is as diverse as there are humans.

However, if there could be an extended delay in speech among some children and parents need to take a call on instinct whether to take the help of doctors or speech therapists.

Having said that, there are some natural ways parents can use to help their children improve their communication.

Here are some tips:

Language Skills in Early Childhood - Sherwood High Blog

  • Toddlers begin communicating through body language, eye movement and gestures, respond to every action of theirs by words, expressions and questions.
  • Most toddlers babble early with a variety of sounds to draw your attention and soon that turns into “ma,” “pa,” “da” etc. Hold on to these words, respond to them and repeat them.
  • Talk to them regularly, through various activities, strike a conversation, never think that they can’t understand. They are absorbing every word of yours, so keep talking to them when you are feeding them, dressing them or giving them a bath.
  • Point to colours and shapes, label things and expand on the words they say.
  • Play with the child, have a laugh, make faces and have fun with them, this helps in strengthening the bond as well as expression.
  • Engage your baby in a range of actions such as clapping the hands, humming and singing as well as jumping and dancing, all the while labelling every activity.
  • Count the objects aloud so that the child can pick on the numbers.
  • Use gestures, like waving and pointing, while using words so that they can connect the word with action.
  • Read stories and rhymes to them through picture books, use books with large colourful pictures. This will help them relate the words with the images.
  • Build on the words your baby says, extend them and repeat them, so that they learn the complete expression.
  • When the toddlers are playing with toys, try to make positive and affirmative remarks and comments so that they learn the vocabulary for different objects.
  • Imitate their sounds so that they learn to imitate your sounds. Use a mix of baby-talk and adult speech when speaking with the toddlers so that they can establish a connection between how they speak and how the adults talk.

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