Promoting Language Development
Learning to speak, listen, and understand is a huge part of a child’s development.
So it’s not surprising that, here at Winchmore Hill Preschool, parents often ask us how they can help to promote speech and language development at home.
We work hard to support language development each and every day, and there are plenty of ways that you can help support this at home.
It’s never too early to start thinking about language development, after all, babies start to tune into the sounds of language during the third trimester of pregnancy.
From birth onwards, babies are starting to build the foundations of language, making interactions key. As well as listening to the sound of their carers and starting to recognise voices and intonations, babies also watch facial expressions and start to copy the mouth movements of those around them.
If a baby makes a sound and an adult responds, this will often prompt the baby to carry on making sounds, so make sure you respond when your little one tries to interact with you. You should also make eye contact with them, ensuring you are close enough for them to see your face and watch your mouth moving.
Pause regularly when you are talking to them and allow them to make sounds in response, this will help them to learn about the flow of conversation.
Development from one to five years
By the time they reach their first birthday, of babies are familiar with speech patterns, they will be able to understand some of the words that are commonly used around them. At this age, babies also start to produce words. However, it can take up until the age of 2 for some children to reach this stage, so don’t worry if they aren’t forming words quite yet!
During this time, your little one’s vocabulary will grow and develop, so make sure you keep singing and reading with them, as well as repeating words that they are familiar with in context.
By the time they are two, children will generally be starting to put two or three words together to make sentences, although these might not be grammatically correct! It’s important to repeat these sentence in a grammatically correct way, without actively telling them they’re wrong.
At three, children are typically starting to use pitch and can vary the loudness of their voices to be more ‘adult like’. Their conversations at this stage tend to be based in the present, and their vocabulary is continuing to grow with their understanding.
By four, children are usually starting to develop an understanding of the past and the future and will start talking about events in their lives. They’ll also be starting to develop a sense of humour, which can be incredibly fun!
How you can help promote language development at home
There are a whole host of ways that you can help to promote language learning at home.
Reading with your child should be a truly interactive experience with lots of discussion about the pictures on the pages. Singing is also important as it will help your child to learn about rhythm, tone, and rhyme. And it doesn’t matter what your voice sounds like, sing to your baby whenever you can!
Contingent talk is when parents and carers amend their speech in order to promote language development, often without even realising they’re doing it. This involves watching your child and tuning into what they are interested in. So, for example, if your baby is fond of their toy rabbit, you might say “You’ve found your rabbit in the cot…he is a lovely rabbit. Look, your rabbit is dancing!” Repeating the term ‘rabbit’ multiple times will help to reinforce it in your child’s mind.
Repetition is key for language development. Start with contingent talk, as discussed above, and then, once you notice your little one starts to add new words into their vocabulary, ensure that you introduce more new words and repeat them so their vocabulary can expand.
Children’s early words are often difficult to make out and only discernible to those close to them, but having the opportunity to hear the words repeated by adults and use them will improve the pronunciation over time.
In the early stages of development, it’s important not to tell children off for mispronouncing words or making grammatical errors. Instead, repeat the word pronounced correctly. Some letters are naturally more difficult for children to pronounce than others, but with plenty of practice and patience, they will naturally learn to do it.