Help Your Child Talk: From First Words to Sentences

Welcome  to  Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: this week’s extract from the SpeechContacts Kindle and your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk. 
This week’s extract highlights some of the words and phrases you’re likely to hear your child use when he’s 1 – 3 years old. He’s learning fast during these months. Remember that he has to hear your speech repeated many times before he uses any of these words or phrases himself. 
Listening comes before speaking
The first words your child uses are labels for things. “Cup” “shoes” and “teddy” are simple labels called nouns and they represent the things he finds familiar. 
During his second year, he uses quite a collection of single nouns, until by his second birthday he has as many as two hundred words in his vocabulary.
First phrases
Single words are not the end of the story. We don’t usually talk in single words. We use sentences. After a few months of naming things, your child moves on to putting 2 words together.
A 1 year old often uses groups of words, such as “up we go” or “here it is”. These, though useful, are not true 2 or 3 word phrases, because he’s learned them as though they were one word. 
They only have one meaning. He uses them appropriately in one context, but doesn’t yet split the words up and use them in other phrases.
His big step forward comes when he start to say, “Teddy cup”, “Mummy cup”, “Daddy cup”; or tries “hat on”, “coat on”, and “shoes on”. These short phrases of only 2 words together, are first steps towards proper sentences.But they don’t have a verb.
Action words, or verbs, are at the heart of the sentences we use as adults. Every complete sentence contains a verb. As your child begins to use action words he takes a giant stride into talking. 
He starts with the actions that he hears you say most often, such as “cry”, ‘eat’, “sleep”.  He combines these with his single word labels to produce miniature sentences. “Dolly sleep”, “eat biki” and “baby cry” are typical 2-word combinations at this stage.
Encourage his 2 word phrases by using them yourself.  Remember that modelling good patterns for him helps him to learn more quickly. 
You can use a few words in many 2-word phrases.  For example, “eat” can be used with a huge variety of other words in such phrases as “eat dinner”, “teddy eat”, “doggy eat”, “eat cake” and so on.
In the same way, you could build a whole series of 2 word phrases around a colour or a size“Big car”, “big boy”, “big dog”, “red hat”, “red boots”.

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Ten Tips for Play To Help Your Child Talk

Welcome  to  Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: this week’s extract from the SpeechContacts Kindle and your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk. 
Here are ten tips for playing with your child, helping him learn to talk through play.
  1. Observe your child: watch what he does and you’ll see how much he learns from every toy.
  2. Provide him with related items: spoons and plates, toothpaste and toothbrush, garage and cars. He’ll learn to put them together, beginning to find out how the world works.
  3. Play alongside him, so the two of you are having fun doing the things he wants to do.
  4. Give teddy bear tea parties with him as he practises ‘pretend’ play.
  5. Help to bath teddy and your toddler will soon learn the words for body parts.
  6. Dress a doll in her clothes, undress her and put her to bed, as you and your child name all her clothes and even tell her a bedtime story.
  7. Play with a toy telephone together, pretending to talk to granny. Or do it for real!
  8. Consider providing a doll’s house. Not cheap, but worth every penny for the hours of pretend play.
  9. Look at picture books together. The same ones, over and over, help him learn the words.
  10. Be patient and let him go at his own pace. It’s not a race. Give him opportunities and he’ll learn unbelievably fast.

If you like this, you may want to read the rest of this Kindle book. Download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter in seconds for only £2.09

Help Your Child Talk: Toddler Listening Games

Here’s extract number 10 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.

Last week, we looked at games you can play with your baby. This week’s extract moves on to think about toddlers and suggest some activities you may enjoy that will support your active toddler’s listening skills.

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.

Listening: toddlers
Listening skills still matter to your child as he grows into an active and lively toddler. He needs to run and have fun, and he needs quiet times every day, just with you.

Remember to end each day with a story before bedtime. Settle down in a comfortable place with him, maybe after his bath when he feels relaxed and happy. Use a simple book, with bright pictures, and be prepared to read the same book many times. Your child loves familiar things; they make him feel safe.

Keep talking and playing with him regularly. Read stories to him, sing nursery rhymes together and talk about things he sees.

Listening: toddler activities: jack in the box
Use a jack in the box to show your child the fun in listening for a signal. Make sure he enjoys playing with his toy then introduce the idea of waiting. Hold his hands, say his name and wait until he looks at you. Then say, “go” and help him press the button that makes the puppet jump. Press the button immediately when you say “go”. Those moments of waiting increase his excitement, until the toy bobs up, keeping his attention development going alongside his listening skills.

Listening: toddler activities: noise – makers
Collect together pairs of instruments. Try rattles or squeaky toys, tambourines, drums or rattles that you make yourself by filling yoghurt pots with rice, sugar, sand and so on. Always make sure that you cover the pot carefully to prevent your child trying to eat the contents.

Play with two of the noisemakers, so your child becomes familiar with the sounds they make. Place them on a table and then rattle one of the matching noisemakers out of his sight, to see if he can find the pair by listening alone.

Ring the changes by using two or more noisemakers in sequence, so he learns to copy rhythms.

Listening: toddler activities: sound lotto
Record some everyday sounds yourself, in preparation for a game of sound lotto with your child. Leave a gap of a few seconds between each sound, and collect a picture to illustrate each one. Include bird song, a cat, a vacuum cleaner, water running, and any other everyday noise your child will find familiar.

Put two or three cards in front of your child and give him some counters. Make sure he is listening. You may need to say “listen” and wait to gain his attention. You know you have his attention when he looks at your face. Then play one of the sounds on the tape recorder. Let him put a counter on the correct picture.

As he becomes more skilful, put out more cards or play two or three of the sounds before allowing him to use the counters.

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

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Communication Newsletter: Child Talk, Music, Stroke and Brains

I like to sample the web and sniff out tasty communication–related topics.

There are stacks out there, so here’s my selection box of tasters. Please dip in.

Choose from helping your child talk (one of my favourite flavours), some fellow-bloggers’ thoughts on the benefits of silence and music, a sign of hope for stroke patients and this month’s favourite soft centre: the importance of red wine and chocolate, preferably enjoyed together. Yum.


Child language
The Hello 2011 campaign is raising awareness of the importance of your child’s first three years. That’s when your baby/toddler learns language most quickly – so why not take advantage of that window. There’s plenty of help on the Hello site, including some great videos.

Early years are key for communication skills yet 1 in 5 new parents unaware of need to talk to their baby! Don’t be one of that 20%.

Helpful pauses and magical silences
Good news for parents who um and er. It doesn’t matter if you hesitate a bit when you talk to your children – in fact, it may even help them, by slowing your speech down and giving them time to understand it. In fact, pauses in speech help everyone, not just children, to process what you say.

I love this post from Mary Plouffe, a clinical psychologist, on the healing power of silence.She’s someone who welcomes pauses and silences, and her writing style enchants. Take a while to read and think. Maybe, like many of us, you could use some extra quiet in your life?

Communication, science and the brain
Future hope for locked in syndrome sufferers. When is life no longer worth living? How can you tell what another person thinks if he can’t speak or move?

Here’s a hopeful post on how scientists are bypassing motor problems in stroke patients and using blocked brain signals to enable movement again. Wonderful prospects for people longing to communicate and their families.

Music has great power to relieve stress There’s a strong linked to talking, in fact there are theories that the two abilities develop as one in a tiny baby. If your life is busy, your toddler fractious or your tween hyper, try some calming music.

Chocolate and red wine: of course it’s good for you!

Try some of these other posts on communication:

Your Five Senses

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills: Ten Best Tips for Better Understanding

Credits: Child listening to music image

Help Your Child Talk Part 3: Infant Concentration

Hello and welcome to this Friday’s extract from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter.

CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. I’ll post up one extract each Friday. At the end of each Friday post you’ll see a link to take you on to the next extract.

Attention skills: help your infant concentrate
Your newborn baby never plans. He reacts. He responds to loud noises with a startle reflex but relaxes when he hears your voice. By 3 months, he turns his head to the direction of the sounds he hears.

Soon, he watches your face closely as you talk. Make the most of this contact. Speak quietly to him and make happy faces. Watch him concentrate hard and copy your facial movements. When you poke out your tongue, he follows suit a few moments later.

His concentration is intense. This is natural. Everything is still new and he needs to understand it.

Sometimes you speak to him and he won’t look at you. He’s too busy watching a mobile, or the patterns of leaves against the sky, or he’s wiggling his toes. He may be aware of his own internal feelings. Maybe he’s getting hungry. He can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

Attention skills: baby’s short attention span
He can’t choose the subject of his concentration. It happens by chance. If a new toy catches his eye, he loses interest in what he is doing and puts all his attention on the new toy. If he bangs his hand, he forgets what he was looking at and cries, but you can distract him by giving him something new to see, hear, feel, smell or taste.

During his first year, his concentration span remains short and single-channel. He plays with one toy for a few moments, then moves on to something else. It helps him to have just one or two toys available at a time. Let him play with these until he loses interest, then put them away and give him something else. Avoid surrounding him with dozens of toys all at once. He finds it difficult to settle down with one toy if there are too many other things nearby.

Attention skills: baby activities: peep-bo
To play peer-bo, you hide your face from your baby, then pop your head out and say “peep-bo”. It’s a great attention builder. At the start of the game you make and hold eye contact with him. This captures his awareness and he watches you closely.

Then hide your face. This surprises him. It takes him aback. He sits for a second, puzzled. Maybe he feels a touch of anxiety. Then, you pop your head out again and give him a start. You smile; he laughs and has his reward for waiting.

He learns several lessons.

First, he learns that making eye contact with you is fun. Second, he finds that his bonus for waiting a moment is that you appear again. Third, he works out that your face might disappear but come back again: it hasn’t gone away forever.

That helps his intellectual development, as he learns that objects still exist, even when he can’t see them. As a bonus, he finds that you like laughing with him. This helps him feel secure and happy, providing the perfect environment for relaxed development.

Come back next week for the next extract to find out more about your child’s attention skills and discover more activities you can carry out yourself. CLICK HERE for the next extract.
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