Learning to talk starts long before a child says their first words. In fact, there are many things a child needs to learn about in order to communicate with words. Here are some of the building blocks for words, and some tips for encouraging them with your child.
Children need to learn how to use their voice and mouth to make a variety of sounds before they learn to talk. This starts when they are infants when they coo and gurgle, and eventually they learn to babble strings of sounds like “ba ba ba”.
Copying your child’s sounds is a great way to encourage your child to vocalize more. After you copy your child’s sounds, pause, and wait while looking at your child to see if they copy you back.
It’s impossible to use a word correctly if you don’t know what it means. That’s why children generally understand several words before they start to talk.
Build your child’s understanding by showing them what words mean through your voice and actions. Point to or hold up objects as you talk about them so your child can connect the item with its name.
Before children say their first words, they usually learn to use some gestures, such as pointing to things that catch their attention, raising their arms to be picked up, and shaking their heads when they don’t want something.
The best way to help your child learn gestures is to use gestures yourself.
Being able to take turns back and forth during enjoyable interactions allows children to hear and learn language. These interactions teach children about how conversations work – long before they can talk.
Following your child’s lead is the easiest way to get an interaction going. If you observe your child’s interest and join in with what they are doing, your child will be motivated to share the moment with you and keep the interaction going.
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