Murder on the Tor:Exham on Sea Mysteries Book Three

Murder on the Tor: out now

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 A body on Glastonbury Tor, a sudden mist, a silent child and an old, amber necklace.

Libby, haunted by her husband’s murky past and struggling with her feelings for secretive Max, battles to uncover the truth behind the murder of a photographer on Glastonbury Tor.

Download here

The green fields, rolling hills and sandy beaches of the West Country provide the perfect setting for crime, intrigue and mystery.

For lovers of Agatha Christie novels, Midsomer Murders, lovable pets and cake, the Exham on Sea Mystery series offers a continuing supply of quick crime stories to read in one sitting, as Libby solves a mixture of intriguing mysteries and uncovers the secrets of the small town’s past.

Discover more about the series and my other books on my Author page here.

First Words: Help Your Child To Talk

Your baby’s learned to pay attention and to listen. He’s beginning to understand you when you talk to him and during his second year, at some point, he’ll start to use words himself.
 
In this extract from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk, we look at how he arrives at those very first words. 
If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.   
Speech: infants
Your baby depends on you to keep him alive, warm and comfortable. His first cries are the only way he can communicate with you, and he cries with a sound that you just can’t ignore. You’re right in your instincts to use his cries as a signal that you need to look after him. 
Doctors now know that the stress of prolonged crying encourages the production of the chemical cortisol, as Penelope Leach points out in her book “The Essential First Year – What Babies Need Parents to Know”. It’s true that humans all need cortisol, to help reduce inflammation and encourage the metabolism of some foods, too much in the brain can slow development. 
It doesn’t hurt your baby to cry a little: all babies cry sometimes, but remember that he is communicating with you in the only way he can, and be responsive.
When you feel you need to do something for him, you’re right. That’s what he’s telling you with his cries.
In the early days and weeks, you might notice he uses slightly different cries for a variety of purposes. He may have a hungry cry, for example, that you notice is different from the cry he uses when he’s uncomfortable. By 3 months, he’ll know he can use his voice to tell you when he’s pleased or unhappy; excited or tired, and from now on, you’ll hear plenty of coos, gurgles and shouts.
Speech: listening skills
Remember that second key: listening. He’s been listening all the time: to the things around; to human voices and, most importantly, to your voice. He’s heard your intonation patterns: the tune of your speech as your voice rises and falls. He’s heard your voice rise in a question, get louder when you’re annoyed, become low and soft when you play baby games with him.
Speech: practice
Meanwhile, he enjoys his own noises. “Ga ga” he says, his tongue falling naturally into that position. He likes it, repeats it and finds other sounds that are fun. Soon he starts babbling and he finds that you join in, encouraging all the noises, repeating strings of nonsense back to him. 
Between 6 months and 1 year, he plays often with babbling noises, trying out all the sounds of speech. He doesn’t stick to his native language, but includes sounds he’ll never need to use. Over time, his babbling begins to sound more and more like your speech, even though there are no real words there yet.
His strings of sounds get longer and he joins them together until he produces something that seems just like the intonation patterns of speech. At this point, parents sometimes feel their baby is trying to talk. He is playing with sounds, getting ready to launch himself into speech, and it’s not until he can sequence his sounds with a meaningful word that real speech begins.
Speech: feedback
At some point during this sound play, he hits on a combination of sounds that resemble a word.
“Da,” he says as his father picks him up, “Da-da-da.”
Delighted, his father smiles, cuddles him and repeats the word. What a reward. He tries that again. Every time he makes that combination of sounds, at the right time, you’ll celebrate, repeat it and reinforce it. As his accuracy improves, he gets it right every time, encouraged by your excited feedback. There it is – “daddy”: his first word.
Your child’s first word may be something different. Maybe he says “Mama” first. 
If you’re finding these extracts useful, and can’t wait to read the rest of the ebook, just download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter to your Kindle in seconds for only £3.53 ($5.73).

Help Your Child Talk: Attention, Listening and Understanding Checklists

Here’s extract 18 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.
If you’d like to get in touch, maybe with a question on babies, toddlers and language development, or any communication topic, feel free to email me through the Contact Me tab at the top of the blog. Questions you ask may find their way (anonymously) into the new Frequently Asked Questions page. find it by clicking the tap at the top of the page.

If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.
This week is a bit of a recap of some of the things we’ve looked at over the past few weeks. Here’s a very brief set of simple checklists of things to remember with your baby and toddler, covering the first three keys to language skill: attention, listening and understanding. 

Attention skills: babies
  • Make eye contact.
  • Speak gently.
  • Notice which sense your baby is using.
  • Play peep-bo and sing nursery rhymes.
  • Limit the number of toys around him.
  • Let him sleep and be quiet.

Attention skills: toddlers

  • Alternate quiet times with activity.
  • Limit TV and encourage his own activities.
  • Watch for overstimulation and let him relax quietly.
  • Call his name and wait for him to look at you.
  • Get down to his level so he can see you.
  • Keep calm when he gets frustrated.
  • Consider signing with him.
  • Tell bedtime stories.
  • Sing nursery rhymes.
Listening: babies
  • Babble and play cooing games, encouraging your baby to enjoy babbling.
  • Say his name or touch his hand to gain his attention.
  • Make eye contact and smile at your baby when you talk.
  • Turn off the TV and radio for a time every day while you play.
  • Sing nursery rhymes together.
Listening: toddlers
  • Keep to a routine, with quiet times for stories, games and puzzles 
  • Include times for noisy play and letting off steam. 
  • Tidy his toys occasionally so he attends to one thing at a time. 
  • Smile when your child talks to you. 
  • Turn off the TV and radio for a time every day while you play. 
  • Make a quiet corner with somewhere to sit and draw, colour or look at books.
Understanding
  • Repeat simple words in many different contexts.
  • Broaden your toddler’s understanding of the world by taking him out to different places.
  • Talk to him about the things he sees.
  • Keep the language you use simple: one or two words in his first year.
  • Emphasise important “key” words in a sentence.
  • Place a new word at the end of a sentence. 

 If you’re finding these extracts useful, and can’t wait to read the rest of the ebook, just BUY NOW. Download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter to your Kindle in seconds for only £3.53 ($5.73).

SpeechContacts Human Communication Skills Newsletter 3


We’re amazing creatures, we humans. Our opposable thumbs aren’t the only things that set us apart. Almost daily, research seems to uncover more astonishing detail of the way we think and communicate.

Here’s just a small selection of items from the recent news, on brains, music, attention skills and bilingualism.

 Communication News Roundup

Your brain feels someone else’s pain
The ABC News website reports research into the embarrassment subjects felt when they watched other people’s pratfalls and other misfortunes. Read more

Brain research moves fast. The views we held on language and communication a few years ago are starting to change.

Mirror neurons in our brains help us recognise what other people are doing and what their intentions may be. Now we can see that empathy is more than a vague desire to be fluffy and kind: it’s an important reality.

For a fascinating, and easily readable, discussion of the neurology behind this, you may enjoy V S Ramachandran’s The Tell-Tale Brain (Click the link on the right of the page to find this Amazon Kindle).

Music
“Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” said lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD.in a study published by the American Psychological Association.

The research suggests that studying music, especially at higher levels, benefits your brain throughout your life, even if you drop your musical studies in later life. Read more from WebWire

Attention Skills
Low working memory capacity can be a problem for some, reports The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. You need to be able to focus on more than one thing at a time, and to move your attention wherever it needs to be, to read the world around and avoid incidents such as road accidents.

Read more on the mangalorean.com website 

If you have a baby or toddler, check out the chapter on attention skills in SpeechContacts’ own Amazon kindle, How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter

Learning Two Languages
Bilingual people may become more flexible thinkers.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, co-directed by Patricia Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff, is actively researching early learning, and has some insights into the ways babies and young children learn language.

The research reinforces recent suggestions, that learning a second language has benefits for children that reach forward into their lives. The research touches on the importance of play for social development and on how a child’s relationship with her parents may predict how soon she is ready for school. Read more

Here’s another post about early language development and bilingualism 

If you see a news item on communication, language, speech or wellbeing that you think will interest SpeechContacts followers, why not send me a message through Twitter, leave a comment here on the blog at or write on the facebook page.

How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: 15 Ways to Encourage Attention Skills

Here’s extract number 7 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.


This extract sums up the information from the Attention Skills section of the book, with a checklist of the very simple things you can do to build attention skills in your baby and toddler. Why not print them out and put them on your fridge door, so it’s easy to keep them in mind.


If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. At the end of each week’s post you’ll see a link to take you on to the next extract. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.


Attention skills: checklist for babies


• Make eye contact.


• Speak gently.


• Notice which sense your baby is using.


• Play peep-bo and sing nursery rhymes.


• Limit the number of toys around him.


• Let him sleep and be quiet.




Attention skills: checklist for toddlers


• Alternate quiet times with activity.


• Limit TV and encourage his own activities.


• Watch for overstimulation and let him relax quietly.


• Call his name and wait for him to look at you.


• Get down to his level so he can see you.


• Keep calm when he gets frustrated.


• Consider signing with him.


• Tell bedtime stories.


• Sing nursery rhymes.


Come back next week for another extract, all about your baby’s listening skills: why they matter and how you can help him learn to listen. A link will appear HERE.


Can’t Wait To Read the Rest? BUY NOW and download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter in seconds for only £3.53 ($5.73).