Habitot Children's Museum

FALL-WINTER HOURS
October 1- March 31
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Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30

SPRING-SUMMER HOURS
April 1 - September 30
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
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Sun

9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30
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THIS MONTH'S SPONSOR
State Farm Insurance
Berkeley Agent, Gary Eason
http://garyeason.net/



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Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111
www.habitot.org


How much and how soon should my child be talking?
The rate that children acquire language is quite varied in the normal range of development. Just as some children crawl or stand earlier than others, some children gain control over language earlier than others. Many children begin speaking in single words while some children speak later and being talking in complete sentences. Whether or not your child is speaking, your child is listening! The earlier YOU start talking to, singing to, and playing interactively with your child the better for your child’s acquisition of language.

A child's environment is the most critical component in language development, and in that environment, the frequency and quality of adult-child interactions are the most important. At kindergarten, huge differences in language ability are apparent between children from middle class families and those growing up in poverty. These days, all young children are at risk of developing less facility with language because many parents and caregivers are distracted by cell phones and other devices when in previous years they may have been talking to their children.

Language development is the product of active, repetitive, and complex learning and coincides with the development of thought in young children. A child who struggles with language will likely struggle with other cognitive skills.

Here are some simple ways to foster language development in your child:

  • Narrate daily and talk about your activities. When you are out and about, talk with your children about what you see and hear, what people and vehicles are doing, what the weather is like and more. Ask leading questions about what they think will happen next. Keep up your own level of interest in the world around you and share that with your child. Although it may not be in your nature to be so chatty, seize every opportunity to narrate daily life for the benefit of your child’s language development (and put down those electronics).

  • Use new words and definitely avoid “baby talk.” Daily activities, such as cleaning up toys or snack time, provide many opportunities to use new vocabulary, interesting verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Many children love to learn long and complicated words like dinosaur names. While research shows that, with infants, most people use slightly higher than normal pitch, exaggerated vowel sounds, short and simple sentences, repetition, and exaggerated stress which are helpful – altered words like “such a cute widdle baby” and “would you like a cookie-wookie” are not.

  • Treat children as if they are conversationalists, even if they are not yet talking. Children learn very early about how conversations work, and through watching, listening and participating, young children subconsciously learn the conventions of talking, listening, and turn taking. Reduce the frequency of commands and demands and talk naturally with your children about what’s needed or what will be happening next – in other words, make it a conversation.

  • Read aloud every day and be an example by reading yourself. It's never too early to read to your baby, and there are innumerable benefits to reading to your child daily although early childhood. Start with simple board books and graduate to picture books and longer stories as your child gets older. Setting aside a shared time for everyone (parents included) to look at their own books is a good habit to get into as well.

  • Enjoy music and songs together. Music is a natural language of children, it helps them learn words and concept as well as the rhythm and syntax of language. Play music for them, sing to them, go to music classes with them, and they will be getting a head start on early language learning.

  • Never criticize your child's articulation or speech patterns. Instead, repeat his statements back to him with the correct pronunciation or word usage. Deepen his learning by repeating and building on what your child says. For example, if he says, ‘Apple,’ you can say, ‘You want an apple. You want a red apple. I want a red apple too. Let's have a red apple together.’

  • Promote language rich play. Dolls, puppets, and stuffed animals invite talk and give children a great deal of language interaction through play. So do other toys such as pretend microphones, walkie-talkies, play phones, or megaphones. Every chance for a child to talk while playing will help him be a better talker throughout life.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s language development, speak with your pediatrician. There are many reasons a child may have a language delay, and it may be as simple as frequent ear infections. If recommended, an appointment with a speech language pathologist can serve to alleviate your concerns if your child is developmentally on track, or get your child needed speech and language services if not.

 
Resources:

Language Development: An Amazing Journey. Raising Children Network. 2012.
www.raisingchildren.net.au/articles/language_development.html

Enhancing the Language Development of Young Children.
Sandra Crosser, Ph.D. 2008. www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=119

Brain Development and Mastery of Language in the Early Childhood Years. Elaine Shiver, M.S.S.W. 2001.
www.idra.org/IDRA_Newsletter/April_2001_Self_Renewing_Schools_Early_Childhood/Brain_Development_and_Mastery_of_Language_in_the_Early_Childhood_Years/

9 Ways to Help Your Child's Language Development. Colleen Davis Gardephe. 2001.
www.parents.com/baby/development/talking/9-ways-to-help-your-childs-language-development/

 
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