Saturday, 6 January 2018

Improving language skills in children

Language plays an important role in a child’s development. It enables a child to communicate effectively with their family, learn at school, socialize with friends, build relationships with others and complete simple tasks such as talking on the phone and buying something from the shops.
As important as language is, it doesn't come easily to a child. The people surrounding them and their environment have significant impact on how a child’s language skills will develop. today's time demand kids to learn at least two languages Hindi being our national language and English being global language and the third language is the child's mother tongue.
By understanding a few simple techniques and strategies, these will ensure that a child’s language skills will improve during their early childhood which will give them the head start they need in being good communicators.
Strategies For Infants (0 - 12 months)
There are plenty opportunities within an infant’s routine where communicating plays a key role. talk to them during nappy changes, feeding times, bath times and play time, which enables an infant to be exposed to language. Use this time to converse with the infant as they begin to learn the basics of communicating. This is the best time of their life where they can learn multiple languages.
How to Encourage Language in Infants
  • Pause when talking – or even when you are asking a question, just like you would do when taking to an adult. This will help the infant develop the understanding of taking turns in conversation.
  • Encourage listening skills – make a variety of sounds from different parts of the room. Each time you make a noise wait for them to turn around and look to where the sound is coming from.
  • Read stories – always read with feeling and expression. Alter your voice tone to engage the infant into the story.
  • Chat - talk and comment about the things you see when you are outside or inside. Point out the colour of the grass or the size of the bus, talk about what you are doing etc.
  • Name objects – like everyday objects. Researchers have shown that infants can understand a lot more then we realize. By naming everyday objects an infant may be able to pick up on the names of objects. Ask questions such as “where is the ball” and watch their eyes. If they understand they will begin to look for the object that you named.
  • Picture Cards / Books – show individual named picture cards, naming each picture as the infant looks at it. Only do this for a couple of minutes each day since you don't want to overload and they may lose interest quickly. See Flashcard Printables
  • Copy sounds – when an infant begins to make sounds, copy them. This will encourage an infant to make more noises and different sounds and is the beginning of conversations.
  • Discuss routine – talk about the everyday activities that the infant is involved in such as feeding times, play times etc.
  • Use actions with words – wave as you say “bye bye”, when giving them their feeding bottle say “drink”, when lifting say “up” etc. This encourages an infant to relate language to what they see and do.
  • Sing songs – this will encourage an infant with their communication and develop their attention skills..
Strategies for Babies (12 months and beyond)
During this stage, babies will begin to use language in a more recognizable way and would have become even become more social. Language skills increase as a baby starts saying their “first word”. A first word could be a familiar name of a member of the family (mama or dada), a common object or even something that is said constantly around the home. For instance one of my twin started saying 'No papa' (with action) learning from his favorite rhyme. 
How to Encourage Language in Babies
  • Noisy toys and books – will support a baby’s attention, interest and listening skills.
  • Sing nursery rhymes – this will enable a baby to remember and understand words, get introduced to similar sounds and connect actions to songs. 
  • Talk about what you’re doing – simply describe the tasks you complete throughout the day with the baby. For example: if you’re washing your hands say something like “mummy is washing hands”. This will enable a baby to connect words to what is happening around them.
  • Name object baby sees – toys, clothes, everyday items, parts of their body and more. A baby will begin to memorize a word the more often they hear it.
  • Repeat words – as a baby tries to say words support them by repeating it back to them also name items they are pointing at to begin expanding on their vocabulary.
  • Read books – when reading the story, describe what is happening in the pictures. Name objects, colours, shapes, characters, places etc. 
  • Encourage short sentences – this can be done by expanding on what the baby says. For example, if baby says “milk”, you can say “more milk” or “milk please”.
  • Be patient – sometimes you may not understand what a baby is trying to convey. Encourage them to use gestures when talking to gain a better understanding of what they are saying.
It’s just amazing to see how many words a child picks up during their early childhood... yes it's true once a child begins talking, that's the end of it... they never stop! Try and encourage language skills by implementing some of the strategies that have been suggested.

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