Learning to talk is as important as learning to walk. Communication is the foundation for almost every aspect of a child’s development so that children can talk and listen to people around them, learn, make friends, and most importantly have fun!
Why is communication important?
Children with good communication skills are more likely to turn into adults with satisfying relationships and rewarding careers. Children learn from other people. As parents and carers you are your child’s first teachers. You have a powerful influence on your child’s early learning.
How we learn to communicate
Babies listen and can recognise voices even before they are born. From birth, they learn to communicate by looking at their parents, listening and taking turns. As they develop they begin to understand what people are saying, they learn how to say words and sentences and their speech becomes clear.
But learning to talk doesn’t happen by accident – it needs you to make this happen. Parents are the best people to help their children learn – they know them best, they care about them most and want to give them the best start in life.
Ten top tips to help your child develop language and communication skills
Playing and talking are free! You can have lots of fun singing, rhymes and songs, tickling or playing clapping games and later on word games.
- Get your child’s full attention first – get down to your child’s level and engage their attention before speaking or asking a question. Say their name to encourage them to stop and listen.
- Make learning language fun! – Funny voices, rhymes, noises and singing all help children to learn language.
- Imitate your child’s language – With very young children, simply repeat back sounds, words and sentences that they say.
- Use a full range of expressions – Speak in a lively, animated voice and use lots of gestures and facial expressions.
- Use simple, repetitive language – Keep sentences short.
- Make it easy for your child to listen and talk – Quiet time helps them focus on your words. If your child uses a dummy, make sure that it is not in the way of their talking and try to keep for sleep times.
- Build on what children say – Talk very clearly and add one of two words to your child’s sentence.
- Give children time to respond – Children often need time to put their thoughts together before answering, so give them longer to respond than you would with an adult.
- Be careful with questions – Try not to ask too many questions, especially ones that sound like you are testing your child.
- Demonstrate the right way – Praise your child’s efforts, even if the results aren’t perfect. Simply say the correct pronunciation rather than point out the mistake.