Packed with wonder and awe, the early years of a child can never be underestimated. They form the very foundation on which a child learns how to express and discover themselves. Crucial when it comes to a child’s emotional, physical and cognitive development, the years 0 to 6 is when children go through different levels of development. Let us take a look at some of the major areas
1. Language development
2. Physical development
3. Cognitive development
4. Personal Social and Emotional development
Language Development –There is nothing more magical than listening to your child speak their very first words. From sounds to small little words, it doesn’t take long before children are stringing along words to create short sentences. An important milestone, there are many stages in language development starting with the pre-linguistic stage when the child starts to use sounds like dadadada, maa mama, Phoo etc. This is then followed by the stage when the child starts repeating one to two words. As children reach the age of 3, they also start forming simple sentences which with the passing of months soon become conversations.
Language Development in children starts as early as the Infancy stage (0 to 12 months) and progresses from listening to speaking within just a couple of years. By the time the child reaches the ages of 2 and 3, he/she listens and repeats the words and then starts connecting words with objects.
As a Preschool educator, I have observed that over the years we see more and more cases of delayed speech which is a matter of concern. Language development delay in children may lead to various other behavioural challenges, such as low self-esteem and frustration not being able to express him/herself. What could be the reasons for this?
The biggest reason is our busy lifestyle, the changing dynamics of a family from one where all family members lived together, to a nuclear setup and that sad fact that now conversation time is being replaced with gadgets. While we give importance to the feeding and napping time of a child, we, however, often tend to forget to take out time to talk to the child. Bring back storytimes with parents and grandparents. A great time to bond with your children, storytimes are magical and are a great way to enhance a child’s vocabulary and imagination.
Include storytime in your daily routines. Make a point to read to your child every day, have conversations around the story as well as the images in the book. Encourage your child to repeat words, name objects in the book while letting their imagination run wild. Here is a cute little video of how wonderful storytime with your little one can be!
Singing rhymes to a child helps in language development too. Sing a rhyme and let the child fill in that missing word to complete it. eg. Johny Johny Yes_____ eating Sugar? –________papa
Twinkle Twinkle little ______
Roleplay or pretend play plays an important role in a child’s language development. Whether it is pretending to be a chef baking cookies or a fireman saving lives, no one can underestimate the power of pretend play. You can also pretend to be the child and let the child pretend to be mama/ papa, doctor etc. At the end of the day, children love to pretend.
Also Read: The Power of Play
They can start by asking for his /her needs like food, toys etc. Often as parents, we can understand our child’s needs and give it to them without asking. However, what is also important is to create opportunities for the child to ask what he/ she needs. You can also extend the conversations by asking them questions. A few examples would be: Do you want blocks? What will you do with the blocks? Do you want a ball? Do you want a big ball or a small ball? Adding and expanding your words will help the child develop vocabulary. While some babies and toddlers may still be in the process of forming have words, they will still try and express themselves in their own “baby language”.
This is a fun activity which involves a mystery bag or box with some of the objects which are available at home. Start by taking it out one by one and let the child name it, sometimes you can let the child do the same while you name the object.
Pretend to call the child. The child can use a toy phone and have conversations with you. Take turns in calling each other and enjoy these lovely calls.
Having a conversation with your child is the key to good communication skills and language development. The earlier you start communicating with them, the better. So dear parents, keep talking to your child. You can also verbalize your actions such as I am feeling hungry so I am going to have a glass of milk but first I need to take my favourite glass then pour milk in it. I will add sugar / Chocolate to it. I like milk and so on. You can even mirror your child’s tone, use as many words as possible while talking or use even parentese a type of speech where an adult can converse with a child in an exaggerated and animated way.
The conversation, after all, start from home and a great way to encourage that is to start talking yourself. It could be simple conversations around your day or a book that you loved reading. You could even talk about how you are feeling. Soon your child will be having cute endless conversations with you. And we there will be nothing more wonderful than that!
With children out of school, physical distancing as the new norm, and children’s rights under threat, the new world order has “turned back the clock” on years of progress made on children’s well-being. However, it’s not all bad. As a human race, we’ve been built to adapt: we’ve seen a tipping point in technology-enabled education and the promise of a new education policy in our country.