Early language development

During the early childhood period (birth-age eight) children are absorbing communication and cognitive skills. Providing your child with an enriched language environment does not require a lot of money or special equipment.

It is very helpful for your child to see your face when you are communicating. Photo credit: Pixabay.

It is very helpful for your child to see your face when you are communicating. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Did you know that during the first six to seven years of life children’s brains are most capable of acquiring language? According to Penn State Extension, during the early childhood period (birth-age eight) children are absorbing communication and cognitive skills that lay the foundation for later learning and form the brain’s architecture for learning. As parents you must take advantage of this optimal time for language acquisition.  Providing your child with an enriched language environment does not require a lot of money or special equipment. Giving your child many opportunities to communicate and be heard is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

Michigan State University Extension suggests parents use the following strategies to enhance your young child’s language development:

Use lots of repetition: While repetition may be boring for you, it is fascination to your baby. In very young children, repetition reinforces the language.

Let your child lead: Talk about your child’s interests rather than what interests you. 

Take turns talking: Taking turns talking accomplishes a few things; this activity shows respect toward your child and teaches your child how to hold a conversation.

Always respond to your child’s attempts to communicate: You are your child’s greatest source of validation when it comes to language. How you respond to your child’s attempts to communicate will determine how comfortable they will be in their attempts to communicate with others.

Make eye contact: It is very helpful for your child to see your face when you are communicating. Besides allowing your child to connect with you, this will enable your child to see the way you use your mouth to form words and sounds.

Provide opportunity for communication: Start encouraging communication by creating situations in which your child needs to communicate with you to get their needs met.

Read to your child: Reading provides a great opportunity for language stimulation. It is engaging and sets the stage for a lifelong love of books.

Choosing at least one of the strategies to focus on daily with your young child will ensure that you maximize the window of opportunity for optimal language development in your young child.

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