You might not have realised, but the amount of time we spend talking to our little ones plays a big role in their speech development. As our Child and Family Health Speech Pathologist Jessica Figueira explains, children are learning from what we say and how we say it even before they say their first words.
“If you talk about what a child is doing and what they’re seeing, you’re adding language that they can listen to, understand and eventually use for themselves” says Ms Figueira.
She recommends talking to your children as much as possible, giving them every opportunity to both talk and listen.
Reading books is another great way to develop new skills.
“Sharing stories through books builds language skills, because children are exposed to sounds, words and sentences,” says Ms Figueira.
Book reading also develops children’s listening skills and their ability to understand what words and sentences mean.
Public libraries are a great place to borrow books for children. Many local libraries also run free ‘story time’ sessions.
While we’ve all turned on the TV or given our kids an iPad to entertain them while we’re cooking dinner or getting the washing done, it’s important not to let screen time last too long.
“Too much screen time can definitely be a barrier to children who are developing their communication” says Ms Figueira.
“Although some TV shows and computer games can teach a lot of skills and knowledge, they can’t teach a child how to interact with other people or how to have a conversation”.
While we can’t make a child talk, we can create an environment that encourages them to find their voice and it all starts with taking the time to talk and listen to them.