Spoken language is one of the characteristics of human beings that sets them apart from all other beings. Through language we are able to communicate with one another, express our ideas and emotions and gain wisdom. Language skills begin to develop as early as 6 months of age. Promote speech and language development in your child by exposing him to activities that foster these skills. These activities can be simple, yet very powerful.
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Sing and Read
Sing and read to your child often. Such activities will enable your child to hear how words flow. While reading, point to pictures and name the objects. Make gestures while reading and singing. For example, nod when saying the word "yes" and shake your head when you say the word "no."
Group and Name Objects
Everyday activities, such as going to the grocery story, taking a walk and even folding the laundry can be turned into opportunities for speech and language development. While grocery shopping and taking walks, point out objects and say their names. When doing the laundry, make piles of objects with like attributes and say the name of each object as you put it in its correct pile -- shirts, socks, trousers and so forth.
Expose your child to new words often. This can be done through reading, playing games, driving or by pointing out objects in your home. For instance, while driving, when you approach a stop sign, point to the sign, say the word and explain what it means -- the car stops moving. You can also use flashcards to present new vocabulary. Draw images on index cards -- such as a red triangle and a blue square. Show the flashcards to your child while stating the name of the image.
It may seem obvious, but speaking is an important activity for language development. Start speaking to your child at birth and do so often. Use real words, not baby speak. Baby speak can confuse him and actually slow his language development, as these words are often jumbled, nonsensical and are made up. For instance, when referring to a bottle, don't say "baba," rather use the correct word.
While having conversations with your child, model correct grammar and word usage. You needn't correct how he speaks on a constant basis, which may frustrate him, rather respond to his statements by using words that he may have used incorrectly in the correct manner. For instance, if he says, "Me want a cookie," you can respond by saying, "I want a cookie, too." He will eventually begin to grasp how to properly state the sentence without getting frustrated.
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