This page focuses on the child’s growth from their birth up to the age of 3 years.
We will take a look at the following:
- Effective Communication
- Communication and Stimulation
- Early Intervention
- Preverbal Skills
Communication occurs in many ways, as it encompasses language to achieve its goal. Language includes both receptive (understanding) and expressive (use) development. Before a baby begins to talk he is taking in a lot of information from his environment around him – he is learning to understand. A childs understanding of a word is always a precursor to the appropriate use of a word. Thus we must always focus on understanding first and thereafter the use of the word in the activities we do to help develop communication.
What is Communication?
Communication happens when there are 2 or more people interacting. This is part of humans nature and may include words, gestures, facial expressions, tone, body language, eye contact, language etc. This occurs when we need to express ideas, needs or information. Communication starts right from when the mother is 18weeks pregnant and the unborn baby can start to hear her voice. Between 0 and 3 years old is the most important time for the development of speech and language.
How to achieve effective communication in the early stages
- Hearing: We must be able to hear sounds before we can learn to use speech and language.
- Eye Contact: is vital for the baby, so that he can see your face when you speak to him.
- Good Health: is important for a babies communication, as they have much energy and are playful. Play is important part of listening and speech. When a baby is frequently ill, he does not have the energy to play as he would normally. and thus this may cause him to take longer to learn speech and language.
Why do I have to talk to my baby?
As human beings we often learn through seeing and imitating, this is true of speech, language and communication. The more a baby is spoken to and is provided with positive reinforcement by imitating his/her sounds, the more he/she is likely to want to talk. It is not necessary to buy expensive toys as there are many opportunities for the child to learn speech and language throughout their daily routines. This stimulation is even started from an early age when the mother cuddles the baby and makes baby sounds.
Communication and Stimulation
Communication occurs in many ways, as it encompasses language to achieve its goal. Language includes both receptive (understanding) and expressive (use) development. Before a baby begins to talk he is taking in a lot of information from his environment around him – he is learning to understand. A child’s understanding of a word is always a precursor to the appropriate use of a word. Thus we must always focus on understanding first and thereafter the use of the word in the activities we do to help develop communication.
- Call him by his name, when he responds praise him and use lots of facial expressions.
- When he makes a sound, imitate it and then take turns talking with each other.
- Let him play with everyday objects that make different sounds and start teaching environmental sounds (e.g. animals, telephone, car etc.) from a young age.
- Let him watch you as you are busy around the house, and tell him what you are doing.
Although some of these activities might seem obvious and activities that occur naturally. The key is to remember to be intentional in using the activities to develop communication and not just because you are ‘playing’ with your child.
Have fun and never forget that you are your child’s key to developing these skills!
- Ask your child to do simple things, and wait for a response before showing them how to complete your request. E.g. ’give me your hand’, ’wave bye-bye’.
- Try to understand what is meant by the sounds he is beginning to use and help him with the words. E.g. ’ba’ –(baby), ’Yes, you have a ball’ (mom)
- Give him a choice of things to play with, by giving him two objects well spaced out. Notice how he indicates, this could be through eye contact, through pointing or through vocalizations.
- Talk to your child about what he or she needs or wants you to do for her. Ask her to practice and show her the gestures to go along with a need. E.g. ’I am hungry’ (rubbing the tummy).
- Using a book, read your child a story and then ask him questions about the story, where he can either point or name things.
- Play a game using a few objects that the child often sees in the house and make sure that he or she knows the objects by asking him to point to the ones that you name. Place two objects in front of him and show him a picture of one of them. He must point to the object that is the same as on the picture. As he gets better, you can increase the number of objects.
- Put many pictures in front of the child and ask him, ’Show me all the ones that we wear’.
- Talk about where people and things are. ’I am next to you’, ’the ball is under the table’.
Pre-verbal skills are skills learnt or needed before Speech begins. Communication encompasses much more than just spoken words. Thus, communication in babies start long before Speech production is heard. They start communicating from the moment they enter the world. Some skills are needed for and may be seen which are important for Speech- and Language development. The following are some areas of pre-verbal skills:
Eye contact before communicating is very important to make sure your baby is paying attention to what you are saying which will enable him/her to follow an instruction more successfully. Smile, when making eye contact, as facial expressions are vital for effective communication. It is important to hold objects at eye level when playing with them, so that they have quick and easy access to make direct eye contact with you when trying to follow the item visually.
Imitating / copying
Imitation of actions is an important skill for all babies to learn prior to learning the imitation of sounds. This can be taught through pulling funny faces and making it interesting for your baby to communicate with you. Encourage him/her to copy you and make sure you copy your baby’s sounds as well. Play peek-a-boo games and use repetition when talking to your baby as the more repetition of sound your baby hears, the better he/she will pick up Speech and Language.
Requesting creates a need to communicate. This If you anticipate everything your baby wants, he/she will have no need to communicate and it may influence his/her Speech- and Language Development. Try not to give your baby what he/she wants immediately, at all times. Try to hold items back for a while to encourage him/her to ask for the item or indicate a need.
Turn-taking is a pre-verbal skill that is learnt in activities, so that he/she is able to take turns in speech at a later stage. Teach your baby how to take turns in games such as throwing a ball or building a puzzle.
When your baby cries, he/she is asking for your attention. Similarly, children will throw tantrums or speak for attention as well. Therefore, try to teach your child positive ways of getting your attention.