How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter

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


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.


About Language
Hold your newborn baby close and dream of the happy, fulfilled life you want for him. Maybe you feel determined he’ll grow up smart, happy and resilient, close to family and surrounded by a circle of friends.


It’s amazing to think of this tiny scrap as a real grown up person, with his own personality, living out there in the real world with all its stresses and strains.


Maybe you pause and wonder how to make sure he’ll be smart and successful. The world can be a difficult place. He’ll have your love and support as he grows, you’ll look after his hunger and thirst, keep him warm, pick him up when he falls down, hug him and cuddle him.


However, you long to know what else you can do to help.


Imagine a beautiful golden chest with your child’s name on it. Inside that closed, locked chest nestles a hoard of wonderful language treasure. That hoard is just about the greatest gift you can give your child and he needs your help to unlock the chest so he can use the treasures of language he’ll find inside.


You can help him find the keys to his own golden treasure chest so he can use the skills inside to become the best, smartest, most accomplished person he can be.


This book tells you how your child develops language and exactly what you need to do to help. Start now to give your child the keys to his own treasure chest, and a head start on life.


Language: a hidden treasure
Smart people have something in common. They may be different from each other in many ways. Some are engineers or writers. Some win prizes for science or make millions by selling products the world wants. Some broker deals that end wars and bring peace to warring parts of the world while others paint, sculpt or make music.


Some come from wealthy families, others from poverty, and they all have effective language skills.


Language is more than speech, reading and writing. Language is the foundation that underpins all of those skills. It allows people to talk, to plan, to share ideas and to communicate their thoughts to the rest of the world.


Maybe you’re thinking, “Sculptors and engineers? Do engineers have strong language skills? Surely, some of these groups of people are famous for their lack of verbal ability. Don’t sculptors sculpt instead of talking?”


Maths language
Think of the archetypal mathematician from books or the movies. You may know someone like him. Let’s call him John. John is difficult to get on with. He’s taciturn and unable to make relationships. People say he has poor language skills.


What they really mean is that he has poor communication skills. His language is actually highly sophisticated. He understands the language of number: a complex, abstract tool that lets him think conceptually and express the most complicated and subtle of thoughts, and he writes them down in a set of detailed equations that mean nothing to those of us without his language skill.


Yes, John’s communication skills could use some work. If he understood non-verbal cues better, he might not stand so close when he’s talking and he might learn not to spoil your best story by walking away, just because he’s had a sudden idea. He’s bad at non-verbal communication and social skills.


Nevertheless, his language skills function at the highest level. Without the language of maths, he would still be piling up building blocks and watching them fall down.


There are Five Keys to Language Learning:

  • attention skills;
  • listening;
  • understanding;
  • play;
  • speech.

 

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.