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February 18, 2022


HOW CHILDREN LEARN TO TALK

Children are born with the physical structures that enable them to speak- the mouth, the tongue, the teeth, the larynx, the vocal cords, and as well as the cognitive aspects of the development. When they are babies, we start with early interaction to stimulate the language centre of the brain to develop causing neurones to connect more and transmit better signals to enable language development. This video, even though it does not look academic will help you understand this better. Click here

Language development starts in the womb, because research has shown, babies start hearing at gestation 24 weeks. They can hear music, they can hear you talk, they can feel you touch the tummy or even when you point light to your bump, baby moves (they’re already sensitive to different stimuli). Babies are born with everything in place to be able to communicate. But when something goes wrong, and they do not develop as expected; this results in a delay in their language development.
Language delay may be receptive (difficulty in understanding language) and expressive (difficulty in verbalising language). We, adults in the child’s life then must put things in place to support them develop to their full potential. If we don’t know what to do, we must seek help because we owe it to our children to give them the best start in life where we can. Check out our training for parents

Children learn to talk through play; that is why the Early Years Curriculum is play based.Play is a range of intrinsically motivated activities done for recreational pleasure and enjoyment. Play is commonly associated with children and juvenile-level activities, but play occurs at any life stage, and among other higher-functioning animals as well, most notably mammals and birds (Wikipedia)

There are different aspects or types of play as well as stages of play. We’re not going to go into many details of the different aspects, but I will describe a few types of play below.
The important thing is that, as parents, we must provide play opportunities for our children. From birth to two years old, children learn through their senses, what they can hear, see, touch, taste, and feel. And when children are playing, they use all their senses. So, we must give them opportunities to develop these different senses and through play, all these senses can be developed.

If we put different toys or objects in front of babies and toddlers, they will explore these objects. This is exploratory play. They touch it, taste it, shake it, look at it i.e., use their senses to learn about the object. As they get older, they start developing different aspects of play like large doll play where you bring a teddy, the teddy represents a person, they pretend to feed it and do what you would do as a parent to the teddy.

Other aspects of play include small world play where you have miniature presentations of different aspects of the world. For instance, animals, people, different miniature objects or representations of objects in the real world.

We could also engage in symbolic play, pretending that an object represents something else, e.g., pretending that a remote control is a phone.
Another type of play is pretend play where children take on different characters; for instance, they dress up like mum, soldiers, superheroes, a shopkeeper and so on. This enables them to use their imagination, make up stories and most especially create opportunities to talk.

Our role as parents/carers
When babies and children are playing with an object, we must give them the words to describe what they’re playing with, help them to describe their environment…Children who have a speech and language delay especially need us to model language to them. Why? Because if a child doesn’t hear the word, they will never use it. For example, if you give a child a ball, they will play with the ball, instinctively, they may look at it, feel it, throw it, or kick it. But if you never use the word “ball,” a child will not know that what they are playing with is called ‘a ball’. So, when our children are playing, especially if they have a language delay; we need to talk about or comment on what they are doing and give them the words to describe their environment. Hence, play is a very important aspect of children’s learning and development. And as adults, we must provide play opportunities for our children.
If as a parent/carer you find this difficult; you can access Early Intervention through your Health Visitor or local Children’s Centre (SureStart). For flexible private support Contact Us

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