Friday, July 19, 2013

Do's & Don'ts of Early Language Development

So what really works to help boost language development? The do's and don't might surprise you.

  • Avoid trying to expose language through TV (especially cartoons) or audio. Yes, this includes Baby Einstein and other similar 'learning programs'. Children learn language through watching lips move in live interactions. So when it comes to language development your kids would get more out of watching the news than any cartoon. 

  • Independent studies show that programs such as Your Baby Can Read and other educational DVD's and flash cards don't actually work. Even when a baby seems to 'know' a word it is actually done through memorization and not by understanding that the individual letters make up a sound and that when placed together form a word.

  • Don't use overly simplified phrases (telegraph speak aka telegraphic speech) such as. "Baby ball? You ball" instead of 'Do you want the ball?'


  • Talk to the child's doctor. Bring up your concerns on the next appointment. He will help steer you in the right direction and refer you to a specialist if necessary.

  • Have your child take the necessary hearing tests. This first one should have been taken before the baby left the hospital and the next at 4 years old (if your 4-year-old doesn't cooperate, don't worry it happens a lot and the tests are redone at 5 and 6 years old).

  • Read to your child regularly.

  • Exposure to language should be live and in person.

  • Narrate what your child is doing. Instead of trying to direct you child's attention try naming what your child is already looking at or playing with. Providing a type of running commentary of what your child is doing will help your child make the connection between what she is doing with words.

  • Use baby talk, also called 'motherese', when talking to your baby. It will help him/her pay attention and learn which words and phrases in particular are important.

Resources and Recommendations:

Speech and Language Development Milestones (has a checklist for language development in children)

Language-Building Tips for Parents 

Early Language Development FAQ

Fact or Fiction? The Top 10 Assumptions About Early Speech and Language Development

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