Sooner or later parents start asking the question: how to perform language development in early childhood? Everyone understands well that speech and thinking are closely related, and if you wish to raise a smart child, you should at first pay attention to the language development lessons.
So, what do parents need to know if they want to develop language of their child from his birth? A newborn baby perceives melodic vowels best of all spoken in a singsong manner. It is very important that a baby hears namely his mother’s singing from the first days of life. It should be quiet, but clear. The modern practice to replace live singing with audio records of classical or other music does not stimulate a baby to perceive the melody and vocabulary of his native language. Such “concerts” sometimes just “stun” the baby.
Besides singing you need, of course, talk to your baby as much as possible right from his birth.
Always respond to your baby’s cry. Besides the signal of discomfort, screaming or crying is also a call for dialogue, because apart from the food hunger there is also a kinesthetic hunger. All actions – dressing, feeding, bathing, some domestic activities – should be commented. For example: “Let’s see what you do not like it, why you are crying.”
It is very important that the baby sees your facial expressions and especially articulation. You should follow this rule throughout the whole period of speech development and while performing speech development activities. This will help your baby to learn pronunciation of certain sounds in the future.
Voice Imitation Exercises
Since, it is still impossible to teach your baby to imitate the sounds that are in our (adult) speech, you can teach him to repeat those sounds he can pronounce on his own. Your baby is babbling “ba-ba-ba” or “da-da-da”, and you immediately repeat these syllables after him. After a while, you can hear your baby babbling them again.
- The best time for such a game is about an hour after your baby’s waking up. The only compulsory condition is his good mood.
- Remember that when you are saying the sounds that must be repeated, your baby should always see your articulation.
- Start with the simple sounds. First your baby repeats separate sounds: “aaah”, “oooh.” These and other sounds should be alternated for your baby to learn to make different movements with the speech organs. Then it is time to imitate separate syllables and their combinations.
- Do not overload your speech while doing imitation exercises: “Johnny, come on, say the vowel aaah“. Because of excess words your baby will not understand which sound he needs to repeat.
At first, it will be difficult for your baby to repeat sounds or syllables – even those he says easily and correctly. But by 10 months old the ability to imitate will improve, and thereafter the baby will be able to repeat the sound combinations absent in his babble.
Already from the 2nd week of baby’s life you can start stimulating the kinesthetic sense of his hands (finger play). The easiest exercise is the slight clockwise circular stroking the palms. This tactile stimulation is necessary for the development of your baby’s vocal apparatus. It is also very important to work out fingers: stroke all sides of every finger, and play different finger plays.
And of course, the most important movements for the language development are movements of articulatory apparatus: tongue, lips, etc. Moreover, the muscles of baby’s vocal apparatus are being trained not only when babbling, but even when breathing, blowing, swallowing, suckling and chewing. It is noted that babies who were breastfed, had less difficulty with speech than bottle-fed ones, and those babies who started eating solid food in time, pronounce words much sharper that their peers who were being fed pureed food and liquid gruel for a long time. In addition, of course, there are special exercises for the articulatory apparatus development.
Exercises for Early Child Language Development
Sound imitation and articulation exercises
It is quite easy to train baby’s lips and tongue: buzz, rumble, howl, moo, caw etc. Let your child lick the spoons, take the drops off a spoon with the tip of his tongue. Smear his lips with some delicacy so that he licked them. Perform different mirror activities: poke the tongue out, make faces. Let your baby click his tongue, smack his lips, stick his tongue to the palate in his mouth. Teach him to spit out a thread, paper, grain.
Speech breathing exercises and games
It is very useful to blow. Soap bubbles, whirligigs etc. can be used for this purpose. Create games to blow off different light objects: pieces of paper, cotton wool, paper figures (boats, etc.). For example, if your baby has already seen snow outdoors, take a few pieces of loose cotton wool, show them to your baby and say: “Look, it is snowing! I blew on a snowflake and it has flown away. Do you want to blow on a snowflake?”
Be sure that your baby is blowing with his mouth, with a smooth and quiet blow, and is inhaling through his nose.
Besides exercises for voice imitation and fine motor skills stimulation, activities for development of attention, auditory perception, memory, and development of baby’s vocal apparatus are very important for early language development.
Games for development of attention and auditory perception
These games are necessary to develop the ability to focus on a sound – a baby will not be able to learn to listen and understand speech without this ability.
Where was the call?
Baby’s eyes closed or blindfolded, he is listening to you ringing a bell on either side of him. When your baby opens his eyes, he should show or look where the bell was ringing from (do not take your hand off the bell). Subsequently, your baby will reach for the ringing bell with the closed eyes.
Learn by ear
Take a variety of toys and objects that can sound differently (paper, a spoon, a drum, a bell, a trumpet etc.). Tell your baby their names and draw his attention to the different sound emitted by these objects, let him try to make these sounds on his own. Then close his eyes and make some noise with one of the objects. Open his eyes and try to determine together which object sounded.
Speech understanding exercise. “Bunny”
With a year-old baby it is already possible to play this game.
Say: “Let’s play a funny bunny. I rhyme, and you show the movements.”
A funny Bunny rabbit with ears so tall, (Raises his hands to the head, showing the “ears”)
And two pink eyes that were so small, (Fingers in a small ring shape)
Went hop, hop, hopping to get some lunch. (Jumps)
He found a fresh carrot, (Sits down)
Oh, yum-yum, crunch-crunch! (Rubs tummy in the clockwise circular movements)
It is important that while playing games and performing activities for early child language development, you should constantly monitor the baby’s mood and take his verbal abilities into consideration.
Language development rules:
• Talk to your baby slowly and clearly, use short phrases.
• Every day read poems, stories, discuss the pictures; agree if your baby asks you to read his favorite fairy tale over and over again.
• Game is the main activity of the baby. So, all the lessons for young babies should be performed only through play.
• Speak Parentese for it helps your baby to learn sounds and start speaking faster. But do not abuse this language. Remember that your baby will always repeat after you.