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Children learn language by watching and listening to others. This is how they begin to understand others and develop the words to tell us their needs and so on.
As a baby your child listens to your voice and tries to copy you with all those lovely babbling sounds. From 6 months onward, some of those sounds begin to sound like words (e.g. dada and baba). Then from 9 months onward, you’ll see your child start to recognise words (e.g. no, ouch, ta and bye-bye) and they will find ways to tell you what they want (e.g. raise their arms to be picked up). Use of individual words can start anywhere from 12 to 15 months. This is the exciting phase when children start to develop a vocabulary of words to let you know their needs (e.g. juice, doll and doggie).
As a parent you play an important role in helping your child develop their early language skills!
How can parents help?
Taken from The Hanen Centre, the following are some tips to help guide your child’s language development.
- Use many different kinds of words when talking with your child.
- Make a point of highlighting a variety of word types (e.g. labels and action words) when talking to your child, not just the names of things. It is important for your child to learn a variety of word types in order to talk in short sentences.
- Emphasize action words (sleep, eat, run, push, squeeze, break), descriptive words (soft, hot, big, sticky, funny, tired), location words (up, down, in, on, under), words about belonging (my, your, his, Mommy’s), and feeling words (sad, sick, happy, angry), as well nouns or names of things (dog, book, bed, cup).
- Repeat these words often and make them stand out when you use them by exaggerating your intonation and slowing down a bit. For example, “Mommy is very… TIRED (yawn). I must go to bed because I need to have a good sleep. Then I won’t be so tired.”
- Talk about your child’s natural interests (e.g. their favourite toy) with them. For example, if your child says “ball”, you can extend this with something like “yes, that’s your big, red ball!”.
Where to go for help?
Children can struggle with language development for a range of reasons. A conversation with a child health nurse, GP or early childhood teacher may be helpful in providing reassurance. They can also let you know about support services in your local area.
Consulting a speech pathologist for advice may also be helpful as they are able to let you know if there is anything to be concerned about and if there is a need for therapy.
The Centre has five speech pathologists available who work on different days of the week and at our Bayswater and Midland offices. Currently we are offering centre based sessions but in some instances we may be able to see children at school.
You can find out more about our speech pathologists here:
Please call Reception on 9274 7062 for more information about our speech pathology services.