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.
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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. 

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Help Your Child Talk: Three Top Tips To Help Your Toddler Understand More Easily

Here’s extract 16 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. 

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.
Understanding activities: variety
Let your child have access to many different situations. Seeing a real duck in the park is worth a library full of pictures of ducks. Give him the opportunity to experience things in a range of places.
Parks, libraries, the back garden and shops are all places for him to see and experience a whole new world of new sights, sounds, sensations, smells and tastes. 
Everything is new and interesting to a young child. Try to leave plenty of time in your day for him to see and handle. Allow twice as long for a shopping trip as you think you need, so you can talk to him about everything that catches his interest. He’ll learn so much more quickly.
Understanding activities: simplicity
Talk to him in simple sentences. If he misunderstands, it means your sentences are too long or complicated. Say the same thing again, in a simpler way, perhaps using two sentences with a pause in between. That gives him time to process the first word or two and understand them properly, before you say the next phrase. 
Remember how you feel when you hear someone speak in a foreign language, especially one that you learned at school. You often wish they would just slow down and let you catch up. Your child feels like that when you bombard him with too much language for him to manage.
Understanding activities: word position
Put a new word at the end of a sentence, as this helps him to pay it more attention. “Look at the dog,” is better than “There’s a dog over there.”

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How to Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: Your Baby’s Understanding

Here’s extract number 12 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.

The third key that unlocks the mysteries of language for your child, is understanding. In previous extracts, we’ve looked at how he learns to notice and pay careful attention to the world around him, and how he learns to listen to noises.

This extract explains how your baby starts to understand the significance of words, and looks at the importance of gesture.

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.

Communication
is a two-way process. You talk, while I listen and decode your words in order to understand what you mean. Then I reply, while you listen, decode and understand, according to research undertaken in 1948 by Shannon and Weaver. If this process is going to work when you talk to your child, he needs to understand the words you use, and the grammatical structures you use to assemble them together into meaningful sentences.

Without that understanding, your communication is less effective and the message is lost or scrambled. Your child needs to understand the meaning of the words, phrases and sentences of language, so he can follow verbal instructions, ask for things, or pass on information.

Understanding: infants
At birth, your baby does not understand any words, although he can hear your voice and enjoy its sound, finding it soothing. At this time, his concern is to make sure you respond to his demands for food, warmth and comfort, to keep him alive. All his brainpower focuses on fulfilling his immediate needs.

As he grows, and his billion brain cells start to build connective pathways to each other, he begins to recognize that your voice sounds different at certain times and in certain circumstances. Sometimes you speak quietly, but sometimes you sound agitated or urgent.

He starts to notice the differences and he turns to look at the person speaking, interested in the noise their speech makes. He gets excited when he hears your voice approaching, associating it with the good things about a parent: food, comfort, warmth and safety.

Understanding: six months
At around 6 months, he turns to the sound of doorbells or dogs barking, hearing the difference between those noises and speech. Now he realizes that your speech is more than simple noise. He hears some sound combinations repeated. He hears you say “no” or “bye-bye” many times, and the link between meaning and sound grows in his brain.

He starts to recognize his own name, probably the word he hears most often. He also begins to understand the language of gesture, including waving.

Understanding: gesture
He needs to hear words and see gestures in context, to work out what they mean. This is a good time to start introducing simple signing. Signing allows him to associate gestures with words and their meaning.

Gestures are easier for him to understand and copy than words. They’re bigger, which makes them easier to see and the movements are less complicated. A wave is one simple movement, easy to decode and understand, while the word “bye-bye” is a string of small sounds put together in a special pattern.

Signs are easier for him to make, as they need fewer fine motor skills: and his motor skills are still developing alongside his language.

Come back next week for another extract. A link will appear HERE.

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