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Chatty Children: Ways to Encourage and Support Early Communication and Language

Dandy Development Learning a language doesn’t just ‘happen’. By Nikki Sayers, from Dandy Development There is so much more to communication than just words. To become good communicators children have to focus, listen, remember, understand, select words, speak clearly, use body language - and take turns! It’s no wonder it takes time to master and that some children find it complicated. Children have an innate need to communicate and babies seek out company and familiar voices from a very young age. However, learning language doesn’t just ‘happen’ and there are many ways we can make subtle adjustments to the way we talk to give children a step up. Simple language techniques are easy to learn and effective for all children. They involve making small changes to the way you interact with your child, but can make a huge impact on their development. Here are a few techniques you can try…

Provide a Commentary Make the most of your time together by turning off any background noise so they can focus on you. Let them choose a toy, follow their lead and tell them about the items they are holding – keep your language slow, simple, child-like, clear and repetitive.  You can give a running commentary of what they are doing, for example, “Car, small car… car is moving… up ramp… car up, up, up… car down, down the ramp.” This repetition is very important; children need to hear a word over and over again before they understand it and even more times if they are going to attempt it themselves! [caption id="attachment_1673" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Dandy Development Praise any attempts at eye contact and speech with enthusiasm and encouragement[/caption] Get Down on Their Level You can increase the quality of interactions, and the chances for eye contact, by moving your whole body so you are at the same level and face-to-face with your child. This gives them the best opportunity to copy you and puts you in the best position to encourage and support them. Make sure you choose a time when they are not tired or hungry! Praise any attempts at eye contact and speech with enthusiasm and encouragement. Repeat What They Say Once your child starts to use words, irrespective of pronunciation, show you understand by repeating the word correctly. You can help by adding another word, for example if they say “cat” you can repeat it and say, “Yes, black cat”. This technique can be applied to any level of development, to encourage 3, 4 or 5 word sentences, or to encourage an older child to use adjectives.

These techniques (plus others), combined with baby sign, can give development a real boost for all children. I still hear parents, and even Health Visitors, explain a child’s speech by saying, ‘He’s a lazy boy,’ or ‘Her older sister does all the talking for her’ - these techniques can shatter these old, untrue myths. Give the techniques a try; I was so impressed with the effect on my son that I was inspired to create baby and toddler classes incorporating them. You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain! Nikki Sayers has created Dandy Development baby and toddler classes. Classes held across Rugby, Barford, Kenilworth, Whitnash, Harbury and Leamington,. Visit for more information.