Language development is a crucial part of early child development. The development of thought and language are closely associated. Child development theorists Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky say that while children develop their language skills, they simultaneously build a symbol system that aids in their comprehension of the world.
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Brain cells, also called neurons, send signals through axons. As children develop, the axons develop myelin sheaths, or cells that insulate the axons and enable them to send messages 100 times faster.
Wernicke's area is the part of the brain that controls language comprehension becomes myelinated several months before the part of the brain responsible for language production, or Broca's centre, has even started developing.
Basically, brain development sets up the order of language development in children in which first comes comprehension or receptive language, then expressive language develops.
Children develop at individual rates. Though a child who is quite verbal and expresses thoughts in a coherent and involved manner can be easily identified as bright, the child who is quiet or slow with speaking skills may not be necessarily less bright. Many intelligent children are slow in their speech development. However, sometimes a language delay is a sign of some type of developmental problem or perhaps a hearing problem. Developmental evaluations can reveal if there are any real concerns that need addressing, according to Dr. Spock.
Language development is closely tied with emotional development. A baby's first communication is with parents, gazing at one another, smiling and cooing with parents talking and touching in response. An infant learns to communicate at first nonverbally, then with sound, to elicit a response from caregivers.
Later, a child relies on language skills to communicate how he is feeling and to receive whatever emotional support he needs. For instance, a child will express fear, anger or sadness to receive comfort. A child will use vocabulary to tell others how and when he is happy to share that experience with others.
Language development is one of the strongest predictors of academic success. Children who enter school with extensive vocabularies and speak fluently in conversation, having internalised rules of grammar, learn to read much easier than children without those skills, according to Dr. Spock.
To help children in this language development, there are two crucial areas to work on in the home. Parents and caregivers should engage in true and frequent conversation with children, giving children the opportunity to speak and listen. Encourage a child to ask questions by thoughtfully answering them.
The other important task for parents is to regularly read aloud to children. Engage the child in the story, by asking questions and discussing what is read.
As complex a system as language is, by the time a child enters kindergarten, she will have a receptive vocabulary of several thousand words and will have mastered most the rules of grammar. This is before formal schooling has even begun. It has happened with normal daily interaction in the home and the community.
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