2 Take Home Ideas for Better Early Childhood Language Development

When does early childhood language development really begin? 

When does early childhood language development really begin? 

In one sense the answer is 'A lot earlier than you might think'.

Language isn't just about verbalization, it is about hearing, listening, communicating and understanding.

For Developing Children's Language Skills

"Practical and theoretical guidelines for developing language skills in children aged birth to 8 years old."

But first comes the hearing.

Your baby's auditory system is in full swing by about the eighteenth week after conception, so singing, playing Mozart or telling stories to a pregnant tummy isn't as foolish as it might seem. In fact, these are a few proven way to stimulate your child's development.

By the time he is born your baby will be well used to the familiar sounds of family and home life. But that is still just hearing.

Listening is slightly different and suggests a somewhat more active process

Once he is born, your baby will quite quickly, despite blurred vision at first, begin to associate certain sounds with particular people, pets or things. He is perfectly capable of distinguishing the various sounds one from another.

Then begins the process of listening out for the sounds.

'Is Mommy there?' 'Is that Daddy's voice?' and all the rest long before he knows the words 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' and a very long time before he is able to articulate those words.

Early childhood language development

By the time he is a few weeks old the baby is already responding to smiles and is beginning to respond to the individual sounds of his family's voices. During the first year of life a child undergoes great changes in the structures he needs in order to articulate sound as he gradually learns how to use and control them.

At first he will cry and then babble, but of course over time this changes into what we recognize as speech.

This process depends upon physical growth, neurological maturation and the experiences he has with speech sounds.

However a baby recognizes words and the names of objects long before he uses them. As he approaches the end of his first year he will begin to behave in ways that show a deliberate effort to communicate. The baby will make both gestures and vocalizations in order to reach his goals in a way that is both consistent and persistent.

The earliest vocalizations aren't learnt from adults. This isn't parroting, but the individual's own invented way of expressing the various function she needs - rejection, request or even comment - in other words  'No', 'Please' or 'Nice' or whatever else comes to mind.

In many different cultures round the world caregivers, including quite young siblings, will have a special way of talking to babies, often using a higher pitch than normal and perhaps with a greater than usual variation in tone.

This is attention making - a source of stimulation for the young child. Also the caregiver will accept any vocalizations as an attempt at communication - so 'conversations' develop.

When this takes place repeatedly while both attending to the same objects or actions, then it supports the child's language acquisition skills - as when the same or similar words are used at each meal time or when dressing or bathing.

Some parent would dismiss these early vocalizations as just babbling, or baby talk, but even the greatest of orators, the Barack Obama’s and the Winston Churchill’s, began like this so who knows where it will lead.

2 Take home ideas for early language development

  1. Start stimulating your child right now. Take specific steps to stimulate and encourage your child's language development from birth. Keep focused and ensure your own child is making progress

  2. Make time every day to point out and name the everyday objects around your baby. Never assume your child does not recognize these objects or words merely because she does not already use the words. So, continue with this important stimulation activity.

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