Our connection to our children begins from the first time we hear their heartbeat. Even while they’re in the womb, we sing and talk to them. We need to express our love, and we are ecstatic when they start interacting with us, too. That’s why language milestones are so important to us, as they babble and baby talk their way to our hearts.
Below are the ABC’s of language development of kids that can guide parents in the early and critical stages of learning language skills.
Language Development Milestones
One year old
Your child starts to communicate beyond crying. He can say a handful of words like mama or dada. He babbles a lot as he imitates the voice of parents or other people around him. By 8 to 9 months, he starts to murmur vowels and consonants. He forms words at around 12 months.
Two years old
By now, you know if your child’s speech development is on track or if he’s a late talker. His vocabulary has expanded to about 50 words: grandpa, more, food, etc. He can also link words into simple phrases, identify body parts, and know the concept of pronouns like his, her, mine, yours
Three years old
Your pre-schooler can be such a talker, as he can speak clearly in simple sentences, string together multiple words, and even hold simple conversations with playmates and even adults.
Four years old
During the age of 4, he can use more complex sentences. He can tell stories, and even strangers can understand what he is talking about. He can now identify colors, shapes and letters; understand the concept of time; and follow more complex commands.
Boost your child's language skills
According to the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, the number one way children learn to speak and boost their vocabulary is by listening to their parents at home.
Your presence during early childhood is very critical. Spending quality time with your little ones, and reading books or listening to music together, can significantly nurture language development.
Through bonding moments, you’ll be able to know if your child seems interested in anything particular. Follow your child's lead and ask questions. Always remember not to criticize your child's articulation or speech patterns. Just repeat his statements back to him with the correct pronunciation or word usage. And of course, give your child words of encouragement.
Limit gadget and TV use
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that kids 2 years old and below should not watch TV at all, and that children 2 and older should only watch a maximum of two hours of quality programming per day.
Sure, there are some educational TV shows, but they don't interact with or respond to children, which are the two catalysts kids need to learn language. Even computer games may be interactive but are non-responsive to a child's ideas.
Expose them to new places and experiences
A visit to the zoo, the planetarium, or a museum can open up a whole new world for your child. Such experiences can widen his interests and make him want to learn more about animals, the origin of things, etc.
Give “brain food”
Milk is one of the best brain food available for the young ones. According to a recent study in the International Dairy Journal, milk can positively impact brain and mental performance. It contains several important nutrients like calcium, protein, iodine, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins B2 and B12, which are necessary for growth of brain tissue, neurotransmitters, and enzymes.
Check with your child's doctor if you have concerns
Parents are the first ones to know and feel if their child isn’t developing at an ideal pace. If you have concerns about his language development, consult your pediatrician. He may need to observe your child's receptive language whether he recognizes your voice, or he turns his head toward different sounds. Through a thorough check-up and assessment, your doctor will be able to determine if your child has developmental or health issues. In some cases, your doctor might refer you to a hearing specialist or a speech-language pathologist. Be mindful that children are more prone to ear infections which can cause hearing loss that might be causing language delays.
While children learn at their own pace, parents should always be there to celebrate every milestone they achieve. The unconditional love and support of the parents will always play a major role to their child’s growth and journey in life for years to come.
About The Writer
A freelancer who is based in the Philippines which for the last 9 years has been dividing her time amongst writing, being a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sibling to 4 or you can simply put it as a superwoman to everyone especially to her own household.