There is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to learning the art of talking. One of the most important areas in a child’s development is speech and language.
From birth, babies respond to noises and voices around them. So, take time to talk to your child, simply and clearly. Join in with “sound play” taking turns to coo and babble.
These sounds are the beginning of speech and language. Before learning to talk, a child must have good hearing and have learnt to pay attention. Parents can help by:
- Having their child’s hearing assessed.
- Giving their child the best chance of hearing speech sounds and words by speaking slowly and clearly. Parents can foster speech and language development in a number of ways.
- Put your child’s experience into words. For example,”Here’s your milk, drink it up, good it’s all gone”.
- Encourage learning by letting your child know what he has to say is important. Take time to listen and show interest by smiling, looking and asking questions.
- When your child makes mistakes, try not to be critical. Repeat clearly what he meant to say. This allows your child to hear how it should have been said without feeling over-corrected.
By the age of 15 months, baby may be saying various isolated words, and “jargon speech.” At two years, many children can use 20 or more clear words. They can also form short, simple sentences.
From this point, the vocabulary improves, and the ability to join words into sensible sentences and phrases also improves. Children develop speech and language at different rates. Some children need extra help.
Activities that encourage speech and language development include reading to your child, singing nursery rhymes and simple repetitive songs, making a scrapbook, and listening for sounds in the environment.
It is enormously important that any obvious lack in forming words and talking be recognized as early as possible. If a child is hard of hearing or deaf, this can be a real drawback to learning to speak normally.