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.
Sentences
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”.

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 (new reduced price – September only)

Smart Kids: Three Ways Parents Help Their Child Talk and Learn

Your child learns fast before he even begins to talk. Billions of brain cells already exist, and during his early months, he starts building pathways between them. That’s how he learns. Follow three rules to encourage his brain to develop during his early months and give him a head start in language skills by offering him:


• a safe environment;


• opportunities for enriching experiences;


• close attachment to you.


Safety
Reduce your baby’s stress by helping him feel secure. Respond when he cries, make sure he feels safe and introduce a routine, so he knows what is going to happen. If he feels stressed and anxious for a long time, his brain produces high levels of cortisol. This chemical is fine in small doses, but too much of it for too long appears to slow brain development. A calm baby can learn more easily.


Keep sound levels low and avoid sudden bursts of noise, movement and action. Use quiet, soothing music and gentle voices to relax him and help him sleep, building a secure routine that makes him feel safe. Let him sleep when he needs to.


Opportunity
Offer him new experiences, one at a time. Take him with you on trips to buy groceries, talk to him as you change him, dress him and play with him. Use the times when he’s awake and alert to introduce him to new experiences, so he can build on his knowledge over time.


Repetition matters to your baby, as his brain establishes new pathways, so include familiar things in his day as well as new ones. Try a daily walk in the park, or round the corner, so he can experience a mix of regular and new events. Talk about the things you see and hear together. Name his clothes, his food, parts of his body, animals and cars in the street.


Play with him, kneeling down and getting close to him, playing baby games and singing together. Every experience is new and interesting, and time spent with you is the best of all.


Attachment
Enjoy the unique relationship you have with your baby. Learn to recognise his needs: see if you can recognise how his hungry cry differs from his tired cry, for example. You won’t get it right all the time, but fulfilling his needs just one third of the time is enough to build a bond. A baby learns most in his first year from one adult, who he spends time with and grows attached to.


Make sure your baby learns to trust you, by being reliable. You may not be with him all the time, the when you are, give him your full attention. Ensure that anyone who cares for him when you are elsewhere understands the importance of responding to his needs.

How to Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: Early Learning Matters

Children who talk well do better in life. Language skill opens the door to success, and communication difficulties make life harder. As a parent, you want your child to become a successful person, and by helping his language development you can give him the language tools to smooth his path.

Youth offending
One shocking fact is that 70 percent of young offenders in England and Wales have a communication difficulty, according to a recent report for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, while 10 percent of the entire population have a communication problem.

Brain research
The Royal Society, in its report, “Brain Waves Module Two: Neuroscience: Implications for Education and Lifelong Learning”, makes it clear that the early years of life are important for rapid development in a baby’s brain. While changes to the brain continue throughout life, there are critical periods when a child develops language skills more easily than at any other time.

Self-control
The report also highlights the importance of self-control in our lives. A child of three who resists the temptation to eat a sweet straight away, because he knows he will be rewarded for his self-control by receiving two sweets, may well achieve more in later life.

Understanding
A recent study by the University of California shows that babies use the same brain areas as adults to process words, suggesting that maybe a child’s understanding of words begins even earlier than we thought.

How to help
Improve your child’s life chances by offering the best possible environment for learning self-regulation and language development. Your child will benefit from:
• a regular routine, where she feels confident and secure,
• quiet times during the day to avoid over-stimulation,
• plenty of sleep to let her brain deal with the new things she sees every day,
• parents or carers who smile, talk to and cuddle her.

Some children find it difficult to learn language, speech and communication skills. Check your child’s progress regularly to make sure he learns language at a reasonable speed. If you have concerns, speak to your health professional as soon as possible. A speech therapist can tell whether he’s on the right track and she will advise you on how to help him.

If you’d like to know more about how to help your child talk and grow smarter, maybe you’d like to take a look at How to Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter, available from Amazon: just click on the thumbnail to find out more.