Thursday, 20 September 2012

Chatty Children - Early Communication and Language

Todays guest blogger is Nikki Sayers from Dandy Development. Award winning baby and toddler development classes that combine baby sign, music, movement and sensory experiences with enormous amounts of fun! Today she's talking about encouraging and supporting early communication and language.
Here's what she had to say!
Chatty Children
Ways to encourage and support early communication and language.

"There is so much more to communication than just words. To become good communicators children have to focus, listen, remember, understand, select words, speak clearly, use body language and take turns!  It’s no wonder it takes time to master and that some children find it complicated.

Our son found learning language difficult.  Baby signing was wonderful; it relieved tantrums and meant that he could communicate his basic needs.  I began looking for other ways to encourage his speech, but no-one would help.  Eventually we were granted a place on a parent based therapy course, and subsequently attended other courses, where we learnt a range of techniques to support and encourage him.  I wondered why this information wasn’t readily available to every parent, and thought it was wrong that I had to fight so hard to get it!  The language techniques are simple, easy to learn and effective for all children.  They involve making small changes to the way you interact with your child, but can make a huge impact on their development. 

Here are a few techniques you can try…
Make the most of your time together by turning off any background noise so they can focus on you.  Let them choose a toy, follow their lead and tell them about the items they are holding – keep your language slow, simple, child-like, clear and repetitive.   You can give a running commentary of what they are doing, for example “car, small car… car is moving… up ramp… car up, up, up… car down, down the ramp.”  This repetition is very important; children need to hear a word over and over again before they understand it and even more times if they are going to attempt it themselves!

You can increase the quality of interactions, and the chances for eye contact, by moving your whole body so you are at the same level and face-to-face with your child.  This gives them the best opportunity to copy you and puts you in the best position to encourage and support them. If they crawl off, follow them and get face to face again – this can be very difficult and tiring!  Praise any attempts at speech with enthusiasm and encouragement.

Once your child starts to use words, irrespective of pronunciation, show you understand by repeating the word correctly.  You can help by adding another word, for example if they say “cat” you can repeat it and say “yes, black cat”.  This technique can be applied to any level of development, to encourage 3, 4 or 5 word sentences, or to encourage an older child to use adjectives. 

These techniques (plus others), combined with baby sign, can give development a real boost.  We have watched our son become a chatty child and it is incredibly rewarding.  Give the techniques a try; I was so impressed that I was inspired to create baby and toddler classes incorporating them.  You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain!"

Written by Nikki Sayers who has created Dandy Development baby and toddler classes.  Classes held in Leamington, Warwick, Southam and Offchurch.  Visit for more information.

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