"In the same way as your child does not learn how to walk straight away, he won’t know how to talk straight away either. He will, however, spend much of the time in his first few months, weeks and even days preparing for his first words. Communicating orally is a highly developed skill which depends on a range of abilities - the ability to understand the words being used by others; being able to think of the right word and put it into a sentence correctly; and being able to make the sounds necessary to form words. All of these skills rely on a whole set of underlying abilities that most children start to develop from the moment that they are born.
The stages of communication development are the same the world over and all children rely on those around them to help develop the skills of communication. As a parent, you will have a key role in helping your child to talk. The parent section of the talking point website (www.talkingpoint.org.uk) is full of hints and tips to help you when your child is learning to talk. There are many other useful factsheets, books, articles and programmes (some of which are listed below). This factsheet helps you with the basics – what you need to do to help your child communicate. The tips here will be useful to your child whatever their age and whether or not they are communicating at the same level as their peers:
Here are the tips:
• For young children, have fun with nursery thymes and songs, especially those with actions.
• Encourage your child to listen to different sounds such as cars, animals, the telephone
• Imitate the sounds you hear, make funny noises for your child to copy. This will help awaken an interest in sounds and help your child to understand that sounds have meanings
• Gain your child’s attention when you want to talk together. It is better to say “Ryan, please come over here”, than to say “Come over here, Ryan” because then your child will be focussed once you call his name
• Encourage your child to communicate in any way, not just through words, Actions and gestures will all help to develop words
• Listen carefully to your child and give him time to finish. Take turns to speak
• Always respond in some way when your child says something – no matter what it is that he says
• Spend some special time with your child every day. The level of talking will depend on the age of your child. Talk together when you are playing, or talk about school or make plans for the future.
• Allow plenty of gaps around the sentences that you are using to your child. This will allow him time to think about what you have said and maybe to formulate a response
• When talking with your child, use sentences that are roughly one word longer than the sentences your child uses.ie. if they are using one word, you use two; if they are using four, you use five. This will help extend your child’s sentences as they can hear what the sentence structures for longer sentences are like.
• If your child says something incorrectly, say it back the right way rather than “correcting him”. Eg. If your child says “Goggy bit it”, you can say “Yes, the dog bit it, didn’t he?”. He is more likely to change what he says in the future when he has worked it out for himself.
• When talking to younger children, try and think about how you are talking: use short sentences, vary the melody for interest, slow down slightly and pause after each sentence.
• Try to make TV time shared time – sit down with your child to watch programmes that are for children of his age".
More information is available in -
“Baby Talk : Strengthen Your Child's Ability to Listen, Understand, and Communicate “ by Sally Dr Ward Published by Ballantine Publishing Group (2001) ISBN: 0345437071;
“Listen to Your Child: A Parent's Guide to Children's Language” by David Crystal Publisher: Penguin UK; New Ed edition (June 1999) ISBN: 0140110151
“Chatterchart – a family guide to children’s communication development” Available from I CAN