Did you know that the first three years of life,when the brain is developing and maturing, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills? These skills will develop best in an environment that is rich with sounds,sights,and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others. So, this is a critical period where the brain of the child is able to absorb the most,so exposure to the language and speech should be maximum in this stage.
As I said, in my Facebook post , talking and communicating with the child is of utmost importance. The first signs of communication occur when an infant learns that a cry will bring food,comfort and companionship. Think about it. The infant is trying to communicate, for his feed, or his potty, by crying and making different kinds of sounds. Speech Development starts from there. Children vary in their development of speech and language skills. However ,they follow a natural progression for mastering the speech and language skills. Newborns begin to recognize important sounds in their environment,such as the voice of their parents(mostly mother, or their primary caretaker). As they grow, babies begin to sort out the speech sounds that compose the words of their language. As toddlers, its very important to not use childish words/tone of your speech, so as children learn the proper words and are able to speak grammatically correct sentences.
So here are a few activities for toddlers(1 to 3 years) to help develop their speech and language skills.
I like to ask a lot of questions to Ridhima, and yes very silly questions too. This was one thing I decided to incorporate in our day’s early on, and more so importantly when she started school 2 years back. I ask questions like, what did you eat now? How was the cartoon today? Do you feel this dress looks good on mommy? What colour do you want to wear today? What happens in this cartoon after ____ ? Did you say this ____ before we sat down for lunch? What did your teacher said to you today? What do you do when your reach school? What happens in your break time? What did your friend said today? Did you greet all the teachers Good Morning? Was it hot/cold in the morning when you left? ……. Anything and Everything that comes to my mind, which will make her speak, and tell me more about her day, is what I ask. And these are very casual talks that happen while getting ready to school, while bathing, while eating meals, while cuddling etc. This routine of questions and sharing what she does, when I’m not around or with her, helps me in understanding what happens in school, and other places. Also, this made a habit for her to share every little detail of her life with me. So much important now-a-days.
I give her time to talk and don’t complete her words or sentences for her. Yes, in the initial stage when she’s just learning new words and learning to form sentences, I did help her in completing those words and sentences. But now, after 3 years or so, I let her take her own time to express what she wants to say in her own words ad sentences. This helps them to learn the correct use of words, and encourages them to speak in grammatically correct sentences.
Start using Verbs and Adjectives more in your daily communication. Can we build this? How to say your name? Can we draw a big and heavy Elephant? Can we draw a cute pink teddy bear? These additions of more verbs and adjectives helps to improve the child’s vocabulary and also helps to express his feelings and emotions in correct articulation.
Give simple instructions for them to follow. Firstly, one sentence or two-three words like, Please bring crayons. Drink water, Eat your food and finish it. And then slowly adding layers of instructions to follow,like , Get a mat to sit on, bring your coloring book and crayons and let’s sit down for a colouring session with mumma. These instructions help them to increase and improve their Auditory memory, and helps build that Memory muscle.
Start talking about different topics other than usual home and family members related. This gives them a refresher and allows them to observe more outside of their environment. Talk when you’re out and about. Show and point out to different things you can see, and feel. Use different adjectives to describe that experience. Use new words, give them something tangible to touch and sense, show them how something is done like a process of something, talk about the things that are not usually found at home. Talk about the Signal, road signs, why you need to follow the signal when you’re on road, why to park vehicles in order and not haphhazardly, what will happen if you break the signal, or drive faster. Think about all the wh-questions related to one topic, and talk about that in your conversations.
I really hope that these ideas will help your toddler get started on talking and sharing some beautiful stories and moments with you!
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