Developing Language Skills in Young Children
7/10/2013 9:41:49 AM

By Sarah Keith, LPC-S

Parent Educator

Language skills play an important role in children’s later reading and thinking skills. Parents can support this development through positive interactions and experiences.

-       Language skills grow from an urge to communicate—beginning with facial expressions, sounds, and gestures.

o   Infants develop a "listening vocabulary”

§  Sorting out consistent meanings & messages

§  Learning that words and sounds bring a response

o   Through responsive care, babies are gaining trust and a sense of security, which is very important for learning

-       Young children need to hear language before they can imitate it.

o   Babies and toddlers need to feel cared for and heard, so paying attention to them and responding helps them feel secure. Your responses are practice sessions for the back and forth of conversations to come.

o   Narrate your day, name objects and people around you

o   Reading together is one of the most nurturing and relaxing ways to encourage and enhance language development. Do it often!

o   Take your child out—to the zoo, the park, to play dates—to hear new sounds and practice communicating with others.

-       Make sure language is fun. Don’t drill or correct.

o   Use rhymes and songs-- children learn through rhythm, patterns and repetition

o   Play is a child’s work. They will learn and develop lasting skills through activities they enjoy. Be encouraging!

-       Follow up on any health issues that may interfere with hearing or speech.

o   Get ears checked regularly w/pediatrician

o   A speech and hearing specialist can test for further auditory, processing and speech issues if necessary.


For more information about this and other parenting issues, please call The Parenting Center at Children's Hospital 896-9591 or go to

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