We cherish our children's first words. We record their unique phrases when they have "a yittle ear confection." But just how serious is language? Laura Dyer, author of Look Who's Talking! (Meadowbrook Press), says early language skills are extremely important. "Early language skills are our best predictor for success in literacy, later language skills and academic success."
The Speech Timeline
Before speaking their first words, babies are soaking up important concepts like how to take turns in conversation, make eye-contact and use their voices to achieve desired results.
By the time babies are nine to 10 months old, they will begin to intentionally communicate. “Parents and caregivers need to be in tune to baby's language,” says Dyer. “When your baby shows you an ‘act of communication’ as frequently as one per minute, it means he's on the verge of using his first words.”
Although there is a wide range of normal, most babies speak their first words some time between nine and 18 months. By age three, a typical child will have a 900-word vocabulary and be able to create three- to four-word sentences.
Tips for Parents
There are many things that parents can do to encourage good early language skills in each stage of development. During the first year, parents can encourage babies to use their voices and help them comprehend words by pointing to objects while saying the names. As children grow older, parents can help them build good vocabularies by engaging them in conversation, by playing language games and by reading lots of books. Dyer’s book, Look Who's Talking! helps the parent know what the best techniques are for each stage.
“Children who have strong early language skills have a good foundation for literacy,” Dyer says. When children are learning to read, it's easier to recognize and sound out words that they are at least somewhat familiar with. Parents play an important role in helping their children get ready to read. Experts now recommend parents become more educated on pre-literacy building blocks such as language.
When you see red flags in your child's speech or language development, you should consider discussing these concerns with your pediatrician or local speech-language pathologist rather than waiting to see if the problems will resolve on their own. It's imperative to note ear infections and persistent fluid in the ears that can keep children from hearing sounds. Too much depends on early-language skills to ignore the warning signs.
Early language, literacy and academic success go hand in hand. Build your knowledge base in these areas, understand what your role is, and be proactive. Federal laws are in place to provide early intervention to any child showing significant developmental delays. Research has proven that early intervention is the best way to ward off persistent delays. For more information on early intervention programs in your state, visit www.nichcy.org or pick up Look Who’s Talking!.
Click here to receive special announcements and web-only promotions from MeadowbrookPress.com--your best source for books and information on pregnancy, baby and child care, humorous poetry for children, party planning, and children's activities.
4/30/2004 11:22:08 AM