Language Development in Children.
It is interesting to know that research shows us that children do in fact have an innate biological clock of sorts which triggers the development of language acquisition.
The biological trigger usually appears at around the age of eighteen-twenty months of age. This innate trigger tends to be a universal occurrence. Research studies show that children from various cultures and countries experience the same onset of language speech in children at the same age.
What does vary however is the rate and depth to which the language develops once the onset has commenced. The onset of language itself begins well before the child needs language skills. Often babies from around six to eight months will begin to babble syllables and single utterances. True language of speech is classed as the stage to which two words are joined together clearly.
This cannot be brought forward by repetition. Language speech development will not emerge before it is programmed to emerge.
Studies show us that this not triggered by external factors. The child will begin to speak regardless of environment. The triggers for development tend to be associated with a growth spurt of the brain. To understand the brain growth spurt, let us look at the brain at birth. The brain contains millions/ maybe billions of cells and weighing around 300 grams. Not all of the cells are connected at birth; this is what makes the brain light in weight. The brain itself does not develop any further cells after birth; however the growth spurt changes are evident in the weight mass. Between birth and two years of age the brain increases from around 300grams to almost 1000grams (1 kilogram). This is the result of the cells interconnecting. It is at this point that studies show, language begins to develop.
A common myth is that parental intervention of direct teaching including expansion and corrections by imitation and repetition, is not only fruitless, but it can also prevent the natural progression of language develop in their child.
Expansions are often done unconsciously by parents/ adults.
Child: Want spoon.
Adult: Do you want a spoon?
Child: Want spoon.
Adult: Say, I want a spoon.
This type of corrected speech can hinder the child’s progress. Parental expansions do not teach a child to speak. Studies show the children acquire the utterances and words themselves naturally. Those children in an environmental ‘rich’ situation (meaning exposed to talking, children learn a high percentage of their speech from just listening, and exploration) will progress more quickly with a greater vocabulary. Those children that lack the surrounding stimulus of speech and listening can begin to fall behind to language progression.
Direct teaching with correction and expansions and or repetitions does not kick start language development in children. Research shows that those who try to ‘coach’ their children actually interfere with their natural development.
The best model you can set for your child is to speak to them ‘normally’, in a natural manner. Children will extract the grammar themselves and their speech will develop naturally when they are individually ready. The more stimulation (sensory) that you provide your child, the richer environment your child will have to draw upon. Children reach regular ‘milestones’ at certain ages and innate behaviour will take its natural progressive course.
Helping children develop a love of books and reading:
There are many ways that parents can help children develop a love for reading and books. The most enjoyable way is sharing. Sharing books together and enjoying the journey they take you on is a wonderful way to spend time with your child. Escaping into another world, taking wild balloon rides, walking in space with space animals, being a mighty king of a large castle and kingdom or a beautiful princess who rides in a pumpkin are all wonderfully exciting adventures you can share with your child.
There are many ways you can help your child enjoy reading and books:
1) Show a keen interest in your child’s reading and what they are reading.
2) Let your child choose books that they are interested in.
3) Books, comics, magazines and fliers are materials that children can read.
4) Joining your library is wonderful experience for children. Borrow books regularly; make it a part of your week.
5) Instead of buying lollies for treats, buy your child a book and suitable comic book. Children can never have too many books.
6) Sit with your children when they are reading and prompt them to tell you about the characters in the story and what they enjoyed most about the book.
7) Let your children draw characters and write about their favourite stories. This will also develop their comprehension skills.
8) Get to know the book. Show your child the author and illustrator names, the spine, back blurb and talk about the title of the book. Look at the book’s illustrations and discuss what the story might be about and who the characters are.
These are a few ways that you can share reading with your children and help them to develop a love of books.
Reading together is a special time you and your child can spend together without any distractions. Make it part of your daily routine and enjoy the experience together.
“my favourite thing about books is that you go on a magical adventure every time you read a story. I like all books thick long ones and thin short ones.”
Jazmine 9 yrs.