Speech in the Early Years – do you know what to expect and how to support your child?
As parents, we eagerly anticipate our child’s first words and often worry about their speech development in those early years. So, let’s explore the typical speech and language milestones to look out for in your children.
The Importance of Early Speech and Language Development
Early speech and language development play a significant role in a child’s growth and development. Children having difficulties with these skills may struggle with social interactions, academic performance, and confidence. Children with well-developed language skills are able to articulate and comprehend their thoughts and ideas more effectively resulting in better academic performances and social interactions.
Typical Speech and Language Milestones
It’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace, but there are general milestones you can look out for.
- babbling, imitating sounds, and responding to their name
- saying a few words, understanding simple instructions, and pointing to objects of interest
- saying 50 or more words, combining two words (such as “more milk”), and following simple two-step instructions
- saying simple sentences, answering simple questions, and engaging in back-and-forth conversations
- using more complex sentences, asking questions, and telling stories
How to Support Your Child’s Speech Development
There are many ways we as parents can support our child’s speech development, here are a few to get you started:
Talk, talk, talk
One of the simplest and most effective ways to support your child’s speech development is to talk to them! Narrate your day-to-day activities, point out objects and their names, and encourage your child to respond and ask questions.
Reading with your child is a great bonding activity and exposes children to new words, sentence structure, and storytelling skills. Encourage your child to ask questions, point out objects in the illustrations, and get them to share what they think might happen next in the story.
Play and engage in conversations
Playing and engaging in conversations with your child provides them with opportunities to practice their speech and language skills in a fun and interactive way. Ask open-ended questions, play games that require turn-taking, and encourage your child to use their imagination and storytelling skills.
Seek professional help if you need it
If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language development, seek professional help. A speech-language specialist can evaluate your child’s skills and provide recommendations for support and intervention if needed.
Just remember, the more exposure your child has to language, the more opportunities they have to practice, setting them up for success in the future!