Learning to talk is one of the most important and celebrated milestones of early childhood. The first cooing sounds coming from an infant are received with joy by a loving parent or family member. The child that uses his first purposeful word is hugged and cuddled and encouraged to do it again and again… and again! A toddler singing along to her favorite song is often recorded and shared on social media for all to enjoy. Language learning, especially during the first three years of life, can be so much fun.
Parents and other invested adult caregivers are essential to the language learning process. It is in the back and forth communicative process with an adult that language acquisition begins, blossoms and thrives. Engaging in conversation with our little ones will provide the foundation for the development of communication skills such as attention, eye contact, imitation, babbling and eventually the use of words.
As a parent or other loving adult, you may be asking what you can do to help your baby learn to talk. Start by observing your child and asking yourself some simple questions. What is she interested in? What is she paying attention to? Is he looking at something or reaching for an item? If yes, then join in on the fun.
Maybe she is showing interest in you by gazing at your face. This is a wonderful time to say “I see you” or “I love you” and to smile and make silly and fun sounds with your voice and face. You are teaching them to share attention and engage in simple conversation. If a toy truck has grabbed his attention, then playing alongside your child with it while making gestures and sounds is the perfect start to learning words. Your using words like “Beep, Beep!” and “Vroom, Vroom” while that truck is racing up a child’s leg is a great way to establish shared attention and a shared communicative experience.
Using simple gestures, sounds and words as you engage in conversation with a child about the things they are naturally showing interest in is both wonderfully fun and essential for language learning. What was your best language learning moment with your child? Share in the comments, and we’ll see you next Tuesday!