Helping Your Child To Develop Their Language Skills
Your baby begins to communicate with you from a very early
contact, tone and facial expression are the first lessons you will teach your child about language and
communication. As your baby develops, they will begin to make sounds themselves. This ‘babbling’ phase is where
they being making sounds such as ‘ooooh’ or ‘arrrr’. Interestingly, this phase of
making sounds is referred to as the ‘vowel’ stage of your baby’s language development. That is because the sounds they
make are commonly made up of the sound of vowels – a, e, i, o and u. In the animal world, animals do
not progress beyond the ability to make vowel sounds, explaining why human communication is so much more
sophisticated. As humans, we develop beyond the vowel sounds stage with our ability to use
Encouraging your baby’s language skills will help your baby
to develop and learn. If your baby ‘ooohhs’ at you, then you should repeat the sound back. This serves two purposes;
firstly, it lets you baby hear the sound that they made and what it sounds like. Secondly, it helps them to
learn the basic principles of conversation, that is, say something, listen for response, say something further
or in simple terms, the ‘turn taking’ rhythm of conversation.
When your baby progresses to using consonants and trying to
say words, there are some key techniques that you can use to help to expand their
language. Firstly, reflect back what you have heard and if necessary, correctly pronounce the word
example, if your child points to a glass of water and says ‘wahwa’, you can reflect back the correct word by
saying “Water. Good boy/girl. Water”.
You can develop their language further by adding words to the word that they
have said to demonstrate the concept of adding words together to form sentences. For example, if the water
was in a beaker, you could say “water.
The water is in the beaker” and so on. This can be expanded further
to build conversation “do you want a drink of water?” – teaching your baby more about language, structure and
As children grow to the toddler stage, their language
development can progress at a very quick pace. You can support the development
of language skills by adding action or description words wherever possible. Firstly, listen carefully to
what your child says. Acknowledge what they have said by reflecting back to the child, then add words to further
describe the word or the actions of the word. For
Parent Boat. A blue boat.
Very good, it is a blue
boat. The blue boat is in the water.
Books are an excellent way of supporting this type of play
and encouraging your child’s language and communication skills. So remember the key points;
reflect back what has been said, add descriptive or action words where possible, listen to what your child has
to say, reflect back adding new words wherever you can.