With how much development children go through in their early years, language development is one of the most important steps that will help them as they grow. It is also one of the development steps that parents really look forward to.
A child’s language development is really the core of their overall development. It supports their ability to communicate, express and understanding feelings, critical thinking and problem solving, and developing and growing relationships. Apart from this, language development is the first big step in literacy skills, helping a child learn to read and write.
It may be surprising to hear, but children’s language development starts in the first 12 months and continues at speed for the first three years. Within the first 3 – 12 months they are generally playing with sounds like cooing and laughing. They will often attempt to have a “conversation” with you, babbling away and then stopping waiting for you to reply.
By 12 – 18 months, children are often staring to say their first words – dada, mama, hello, no, yes – these words are now said with meaning. Words will quickly be added to their vocabulary and they can start to understand simple sentence and instructions at this age. Don’t be surprised if they don’t do what you ask though!
From here, they start to speak in shorter sentences and then into longer and more complex sentences. By the age of three, strangers will likely understand most of what your child is trying to say. By the age of five, they are generally able to hold a long and complex conversation and will want to talk about and know about everything in the world surrounding them.
So, with language development an important skill in any child, how can you help their language develop?
5 Ways You Can Help Your Child’s Language Develop
- Talking and lots of it - we know that once children start to talk, they generally don’t stop until it’s bedtime. But talking is a great way of developing language skills. Narrating the day is one of the easiest ways to promote language skills – telling your child what is next on the shopping list, or what you are getting out of the cupboard for dinner is perfect conversation no matter what age your child is.
- Reading everything – developing a love of books and stories in your child from early on can certainly help their language development. Start with simple board books and sensory books and then as they get older you can move to picture books and ones with longer stories. It isn’t just at home this needs to take place either – story time at your library or community centre, a visit to your local bookstore, or even reading signs and labels in the supermarket can all contribute to language development.
- Story telling – On the other side to reading books is telling your own stories, which helps develop language creativity, and helps a child understand how language comes together. You can make up stories that are elaborate with plenty of characters and adventure, or something simpler – if it piques your child’s interest, they are learning.
- Experiences in the outside world – Language development can be supported through the learning of new words and seeing what those words relate to. A trip to the wildlife park, a walk to the playground, or a swim in the creek are all opportunities to point out new and exciting objects and teach your child the name of those objects. Everything from rocks and flowers to animals and buses are of interest to most children.
- Health and wellness is essential – It is often forgotten that being able to hear correctly is an important factor in language development. Some children are quite susceptible to ear infections which, if left untreated, can delay their language development. Not being able to hear is a real hinderance to not being able to speak correctly, as often the child cannot hear how the words are formed and how they sound. If your child is prone to ear infections, it is important to follow all medical advice and to have follow-up appointments with their GP to ensure any infection has cleared.
Language development is so important in children of all ages, and a good early education centre can help support and grow their language development in an education environment. The dedicated and professional team at Treasured Tots are committed to helping children develop and learn, creating a place where children and their families feel comfortable – a supportive home away from home. To find out more about how the team at Treasured Tots can assist the development of your child, book at tour at one of our three centres.