The first three years of a child's life are the most critical for speech and language development. That’s because a baby’s brain at this stage is best able to absorb language during this critical growth period. In this section, you’ll learn why speech and language play such an important role in your child’s development.
Speech and language are critical components of literacy. Literacy includes reading, writing, speaking, and listening – and it’s the foundation of a child's learning process. Speech refers to the sounds we make that form words, while language refers to how we communicate with others, like talking and writing. The best way to build both of these skills and develop your child’s literacy is to talk, read, and sing with your child every day – from day one! Your baby loves listening to the tone and rhythm of your voice.
Looking at pictures in a book and listening to words – whether it’s through a story or a song – exposes your child to vocabulary, word use, and picture identification – all of which encourage language development.
By talking, reading, and singing with your young child early and often, you will give him a strong foundation for future learning that will help set him up for success in school – and in life!
Baby sign language is another simple way to you can communicate with your baby – and it can even help your baby “talk” to you before she makes her own sounds for words. Here are some basic signs to get you started:
More: Hold your fingers together in each hand and push your finger tips together
Mama: Open your hand and place your thumb on your chin
Dada: Open your hand and place your thumb on your forehead
Parent Tip: We don’t usually think about the individual sounds we make when we say words, but those sounds are what your baby hears. To familiarize specific sounds with your baby, you can emphasize and repeat certain familiar ones in the words you use every day – from the sounds in her name, to “ba-ba” for her bottle, to “da-da” for daddy. Help your baby hear all the sounds you make when you talk with her.