The Importance Of Language Development In Children
Language development is one of the most crucial aspects, which supports other aspects of development. Language is a medium that allows your child to express their thoughts and feelings, solve problems and develop relationships with those around them. Without language, most of us would be lost and wouldn't have a way to tell others what we think or feel.
Like humans, animals too interact by using sounds (like the chirping of birds for instance!)
The Critical Period Hypothesis
For language development to be effective, it is important that it occurs early on in life. Researchers call this 'the critical period'. It is crucial to practice listening and speaking to acquire mastery of a language. The Critical Period Hypothesis (also called the sensitive period hypothesis) states that there is a period in an individual's life when the brain has the utmost capability to absorb and learn the language. If kids pass through this critical phase without learning or being exposed to language, it will become a cumbersome task to learn it later in life.
The hypothesis claims that this critical period begins around two years of age and continues until puberty. It simply means that learning a new language becomes difficult and futile after this period.
I learned about this hypothesis while watching a movie. A young girl who was trapped in an abusive house for her entire life was saved by authorities. However, the problem was that she didn't know how to speak because she was never let out of her house. Even though she was about to reach puberty, she barely knew ANY words. By the end of the movie, she got her first menstrual cycle and the hypothesis turned out to be true. She couldn't learn or communicate through the English language at all and had to communicate through sign language.
This made me realize that children in the modern world are barely exposed to language — they spend most of their time on their mobile phones or tablets. Gone are the days when we'd talk endlessly — our vocabularies are now limited.
Needless to say, it has become extremely important to help kids learn and master a language. We, as parents, need to know how to help facilitate language development in kids.
The initial three years of a child's life are when the brain is developing and maturing. It is the time when children begin to develop language skills. To ensure that the child has the ideal environment for speech and language development, it is recommended to expose the child to beautiful sights and sounds coupled with exposure to everyday conversations to encourage early language development.
How To Facilitate Language Development In Kids
Before you hand devices to your kids…
In this fast-paced, technology-driven world, we've forgotten what it is like to talk. Our world is driven by likes and bite-sized comments — we've drifted away from conversations. Children are handed devices and they learn to keep themselves engaged with the virtual world. We need to change that.
Personally, I recommend limiting screen time to one hour max. Instead, step out of the house and enjoy the scenery. Indulge in activities that both you and your kids enjoy.
Talk it out
To encourage language development in kids, the first thing that should be done is to TALK. Engage your child in conversations — even if he/she can't talk yet. Talk to him/her and try to use many words in the conversation.
Simple Sentences, Everyday Dialogues
Use simple, easy words that are used in everyday dialogues. At first, your child will begin to use sounds such as baba, mama, papa, or even gurgling sounds that don't make sense. Please note that some kids learn to speak faster than others and that is totally fine.
Have Pretend Conversations
Try to have pretend conversations and wait for your child to respond. My favorite trick is to make different sounds, such as 'meow'. It sounds funny but TRY IT!
It makes children feel excited and happy because they can identify that that is the sound that cats make.
Talking does not only help them develop vocabulary but also communicates that you're interested in knowing more about them. I always ask kids about their school, their teachers or their friends, and they always have so much to tell.
Indulge In Story-Telling Sessions
Storytelling sessions can be a great way to build that bond of love and to help kids become more keen and creative. Parents can make up stories about animals or humans. Narrate fables that show different values such as kindness, humility, courage, and compassion. I love the look on a child's face when they listen to a new story. Their imagination runs wild and they ask you tons and tons of questions.
Repeat What You Say
Repetition is another handy trick that helps you to emphasize what you've said. It helps children absorb the information and understand it easily. When they hear something over and over, kids are able to pick up and learn new words.
Give Them Time To Think
Allow your kids to take their time to think and make comments based on their observations. Make sure that you are patient and understanding throughout the interactions.
When kids are older, help them build the habit of writing every day. This is a great way to clear your mind and help them formulate their feelings. It would give them an outlet for their emotions. Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved writing in my diary when I feel sad. It definitely puts things in perspective and has allowed me to let go of bitter feelings, hatred, anger and so on.
Most importantly: enjoy this phase. You and the kids will be remembering and cherishing these moments. So, make sure that you treasure these memories and keep them safe in your heart. Happy chatting!
Author: Samia Arshan is a freelance content writer based in New Delhi. She loves writing about parenting, fertility, women's health, and wellness, fitness/nutrition, mental health, and much more!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.