|Between 3 to 5 years old, a preschooler’s literacy abilities begin to develop, laying the bases for later reading and academic abilities. Experts state that the most important ability for literacy development is the phonological awareness, in other words the ability to recognize the individual sound units that make up words. Acquiring phonetic awareness builds the foundation for reading and spelling. It’s considered one of the best predictors of how well children will learn to read.
Once your child is able to distinguish the individual sounds she hears, then she will be able to relate them to their visual representation in the form of a letter or word. Therefore, instead of teaching your daughter the names for the letters in the alphabet, teach her the different sounds for each of them. This will be more beneficial for her literacy development. For example, say “aah” instead of just calling the letter an “A”.
There are a lot of short and fun phonetic word games you can try at home to help your little one isolate and discern the individual sounds that make up words. For example:
|A study from the University of Sydney and the Australian National University found that children’s language development is linked to their ability to recognize patterns in their environment. In other words, children who were better at identifying visual patterns had a better grasp on grammar.
The studied 68 children, between 6 and 8 years old, and assessed them on two separate tasks: grammatical knowledge and visual pattern learning. Researchers found a strong connection between children who were able to identify patterns in a cartoon sequence on a computer and those who scored higher on the grammar test.
This proves that children have an amazing learning capacity. Without being consciously aware of it, their brains are continuously absorbing and calculating patterns or statistics. In the case of language development, they analyze which words follow others regularly, the context in which they are used, etc. This study is important because it lays the groundwork for understanding language development and grammar as a learnt skill, not something we are born with. This explains why children acquire language at different rates.
There are a lot of simple everyday things that you can do at home to help your little one learn to identify patterns. For example, when you dress him for the day, notice the patterns on his clothes: “You’re wearing stripes today!”. You can also create a pattern while walking: “Step. Step. Stop. Step. Step. Stop”. Have your little one make his own patterns using different materials like playdough, crayons or even cereal!
Patterns are all around us. Get in the habit of pointing them out to your little one and soon he will be finding them by himself! This will in turn boost his language development.
|We emphasize a lot about the importance of reading to children to develop their language skills, but sometimes we forget to consider the incredible benefits that music and singing also provide. Studies have shown that the brain areas responsible for understanding music and language are closely connected.
According to Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, singing lullabies and nursery rhymes to infants before they learn to speak can lead to future educational success and emotional well-being. She identifies singing as speech all on its own; a special kind of speech that carries the inflections of children’s primary language and therefore prepares a child for its acquisition.
It has been proven that traditional songs enhance a child’s ability to think in words, and that when they are listening to and singing along to them they are actively using and developing both brain hemispheres. Singing songs with your child will also teach him about tone and rhythm. Therefore, it’s even better if you dance along to the music –so that your little one practices his coordination, balance and body awareness. When it comes to playing musical instruments, benefits towards language development are also present. A child who learns to play an instrument may actually have better reading comprehension skills than one who doesn’t.
Singing to your baby and exposing him to music will help develop language skills such as auditory discrimination, vocabulary development and auditory memory. The first refers to the ability to differentiate sounds in a native language. Since babies first learn the sounds of a language and then the meaning behind the words, hearing the same songs over and over again can help with that. Singing is also a great way to help your little one to learn new words and expand his vocabulary. Whether they’re songs about the school bus or the different body parts, remembering the lyrics will help your child discover new aspects of language.
|A lot of parents worry when their child stutters, but such concern is unnecessary. It’s actually quite common for children around the age of two or three to stutter by repeating sounds, syllables or even words sometimes. In fact, approximately 5% of all children are likely to sttuter at some point. It usually happens between the ages of two and a half and five, and children can even go back and forth between periods of fluency and disfluency. Most children don’t even realize they are speaking incorrectly and then just grow out of it after some time.
When is it considered actual stuttering?
Getting professional help early on gives children the best chance for reducing stuttering. Talk to your pediatrician about it and he or she will be able to recommend a speech-language professional to assess and help your little one. In the meantime, the best approach is to ignore the stuttering when your kid talks. The less frustrated he becomes with talking, the better. So, don’t correct him or finish sentences for him. Be patient and listen to what he has to say. Demonstrate that you are accepting towards your little one and build self-esteem by praising other activities he does correctly around the house.
|At around age three, children have an active vocabulary consisting of 300 or more words. In fact, the average child has the capacity to acquire four to six words per day, given access to new words in daily experiences. At this age, conversational skills flourish as well, as kids are now able to talk in sentences of three to four words and imitate speech sounds.
Your little girl’s new language skills allow her to express her thoughts. The more advanced they are, the more she’ll be able to communicate and learn. These new language skills bring on new discoveries because of the many “why,” “what” and “how” questions your little one is now able to ask. For example, when she doesn’t know the word for something, she’ll be able to ask “What’s this?” and you’ll be able to provide an answer, continuing to expand her vocabulary.
Three-year-olds are still learning to properly use pronouns like “me” and “you”. Granted, they are simple words to pronounce, but they are difficult concepts to grasp, and the terms change depending on who’s talking. Lead by example and use those words correctly in your speech so that your little one can imitate you. At this age, your daughter’s speech will be much clearer, so much so that even strangers will be able to understand what she is saying. Before, you might have noticed that you were the only one who could understand what she was trying to communicate.
You can stimulate your little one’s linguistic skills by singing, rhyming and talking about what you are doing together. Reading books is also a great idea! Choose books that have a simple plot and talk about the story line with your child. Once you are done reading, help your child retell the story and talk about your favorite parts. You can work on language comprehension by asking questions related to the story.
|Around his second birthday, your little one will understand most of what you say and his vocabulary will increase significantly, starting with fifty or more words. During this year, he’ll begin speaking in more complete sentences, made up of four to six words, but you’ll probably need to “translate” what he says to others due to immature pronunciation skills. With an increased vocabulary comes a better use of language to express ideas and desires –make sure to listen to them! An advance in language skills also brings on new discoveries because of the many “why,” “what” and “how” questions your little one is now able to ask.
Although it is tempting, try to avoid comparing your child’s verbal abilities to other children his age. This is a time with great variation. For some children, language develops at a steady rate and for others it doesn’t. Some children are more talkative than others, but it doesn’t mean that they are smarter or have a richer vocabulary, it simply means that quieter children are more selective when speaking. These variations tend to even out around the time children start school.
If you’re worried about your child’s language development, talk to your pediatrician about it. He or she will first want to rule out any physical problems that might be delaying language acquisition like fluid buildup in your little one’s ears or trouble coordinating the mouth and throat muscles. One in every ten to fifteen children has trouble with speech or language comprehension. Early detection of a language delay or hearing problem is very important, so that it doesn’t hinder learning in other areas of development.
Help boost your child’s language skills by including reading time in your daily routine. This is also a great bonding activity, because you can cuddle up and share a book together. At this age, your little one will be able to follow a simple storyline and even remember parts of the story.
|Preschoolers love books and learn from sharing them with you. Reading together and talking about books will not only build your little one’s vocabulary, it’ll provide special one-on-one quality time that strengthens the bond between you guys.
It’s a great idea to make reading part of your daily routine –perhaps before bedtime. Depending on your child’s age, you can focus on different aspects of the reading experience to get the most out of it. Here are a few examples of what your child can do at three years old and what you can do to maximize the reading experience!
At three years old:
You can: Find a quiet, cozy place where you and your child can cuddle up and read together. Ask your little one to participate by telling you about the pictures in the story. While reading, pay attention to your child’s cues and respond with excitement to his questions or comments. Read joyfully, using different tones of voice for each character. You can also talk about emotions, what are the different characters feeling? Finally, ask your child to point out all of the things in a picture that are similar in some way –for example, look for shapes and colors.
|Including reading time in your daily routine not only boosts language development, but provides you with special one-on-one quality time that strengthens the bond between you and your little one.
Depending on your girl’s age, you can focus on different aspects of the reading experience to get the most out of it. The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a literacy toolkit that includes great tips for parents and caregivers who wish to profit from their kid’s reading time! This article will summarize a few key points about reading with a 2-year-old throughout two stages: 24-29 months and 30-35 months. Within each age range, you’ll find examples of what your child can do and what you can do to maximize the reading experience!
24 to 29 months old
30 to 35 months old
Happy reading 🙂
|The preschool years are a time when children learn at a very rapid pace, it is especially noticeable in their language development. Taking a couple of minutes of the day to read with your child will dramatically increase his language skills. Plus, reading is a great bonding activity that will strengthen the emotional ties between you and your little one.
What sort of books are best for your preschooler? It’s important to find the right book, keeping in mind if it fits your child’s interests, maturity and reading level. Here are some basic things to look out for:
Preschoolers (3 – 5 years old):
Where can you find these books? They’re everywhere! Get to know the children’s section of your local library or bookstore or simply order them online. There are tons of great lists of recommended books, take a look at these:
|As adults, we have mastered language to the extent that we have long forgotten the frustration of not being able to communicate our needs and wants. Even more, we can even learn new words without needing more than a couple of exposures, and the only time we struggle to articulate a sound is when we speak another language. Young children, on the other hand, are very familiar with the struggle of trying to say something without knowing the words or having limited pronunciation capabilities.
Language acquisition is a complex process. On one hand, it involves the cognitive development of symbolizing an object through a system of written or spoken signs. In the other hand, it requires the physical aspects of producing specific sounds with the lips, teeth, palate, jaw, breathing and vocal cords, and to articulate them in a myriad of different combinations and sequences.
In every language, a unit of speech sound is called a phoneme. Each language has a different set of sound systems, and they all have phonemes that vary tremendously in difficulty. Hence, children acquire phonemes at different ages. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this happens mostly between 24 and 60 months of age, although by 4 years old most children will have mastered most of their mother tongue’s sounds, frequently with the exception of the /r/ because it’s more difficult to pronounce. As early as 1971, language therapists have identified that there’s a strong correlation between how preschoolers detect and distinguish different spoken sounds, and their ability to reproduce those phonemes when speaking. Following an article published in the British Journal of Disorders of Communication, the best recommendation to foster your daughter’s capacity to pronounce different phonemes is to expose her constantly to spoken words.