What Are The Vocalizations Of A Six Month Old Baby For the Love of Language

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For the Love of Language

Tips on language development for babies and toddlers

I am not a psychologist, teacher or speech therapist. I’m just an ordinary mom who has a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong. But I happen to have a 2-year-old son, Joshua, whose language skills are particularly good (not only according to his completely non-objective mother, but also some teachers and child development specialists), so I’m often asked how we ‘did’ it. Of course Garrick (my husband) and I didn’t ‘do’ it, Joshua did. And there are many factors—from genetics to how slowly he started walking—that could account for his abilities with vocabulary and pronunciation. However, I took some time to reflect on the way we handled language in our home, and this is what I can share.

Start at the very beginning

Talk to your children from the word, or rather the words ‘No way, two stripes, I’m pregnant!’ It is well documented that little jellies in the womb acquire language skills, especially the sounds and rhythms of their native language(s). Garrick used to read complex metaphysical literature to my belly, but there’s really no need to go beyond reading your favorite magazine, novel, or even your emails out loud to your budding Shakespeare. The sound is important, not the content.

Talk, Talk, Talk

We talked (and still do) with Joshua all day. Whether he was in the bag as a toddler, or in the car seat while Garrick drove, we explained what we were doing (Look, mommy adds soap to the water) or what we saw (It’s windy today, can you see those leaves dancing) ?), like a pedestrian. Yes, it’s a little weird talking to a one-week-old baby, but I assure you, she’s listening and will often respond with raised eyebrows or turning her head to the sound. Later, when she responds with cakes and spit bubbles, respect that as her language and treat it as “real” dialogue, complete with questions and facial expressions. Conversations in Gurgaon are fantastic for self-esteem and social skills.

As Joshua gets older, we use more emotional language (I feel sad today because I miss Nanna). Not only does this give him an essential vocabulary that has saved him from a tantrum more than once (after all, if you can explain how you feel, you usually don’t need to prove it), it also shows him that adults feel the same way. he does, and that creates trust.

Parentheses vs Boffinese

Before I became a parent, one of my (many) theories was that I would NEVER use the kind of dreaded baby talk I heard other parents use. No icchy-icchy coo-coos in our erudite home, thank you very much. To my great embarrassment and shock, a sly new language escaped my mouth the moment I held Joshua in my arms. I called him ninky and nu-noo before we even left the clinic. Well, there goes that theory (probably to the same graveyard that also now holds my theories about no fads or Panado). My feeling is that parentese, as it is euphemistically called, is quite a soothing combination of sounds, for both parent and child. It also becomes a very personalized way to bond because many of the words are made spontaneously and will be unique to your home.

That said, we also from the beginning talked to Joshua the way we talked to each other – never replacing “mush” with “num-num”, for example, or “penis” with “wee-wee”. They are most absorbing at a young age, and the real word is no more difficult to learn than any other. However, there is no need to try to raise your level of speech to make your child smart (whatever “smart” means). That won’t be easy, nor fun, and anyway, kids are like sniffer dogs for inauthenticity. Simply include them in the family conversation with sincere respect.

The sound of music

Garrick and I often joked that since we had children, our house had become a musical. We put EVERYTHING to song (The potty, the potty, a fun place to be; the potty, the potty, it’s made for your chick). While you may lose some of your more sophisticated friends, or totally perfect neighbors, your kids will sing their way to a better memory for words and a good sense of the rhythm and rhyme of language. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll see that their parents are a little goofy and have fun, which makes them feel like they want to be on the same team as you and, you guessed it, speak the same language.

Wordy nonsense

Which brings me to the point about making language fun. Helping your children to speak is not a chore, nor a competitive exercise. If you have that hidden attitude, those little sniffers will find it and reflect it for you in some creative, exciting way. It’s a joy to discover a language and make it your own, show them that you can access words anyway. I mentioned singing, but the same goes for making up silly poems and nonsensical rhymes (Here’s your mash, don’t let it crash into your eyelash!) or intentionally wrong (What’s at the end of your leg, is it? your nose?). Kids LOVE to be a little absurd and will learn more easily from adults who can also be a little absurd.

Encourage expression, not perfection

This may be a bit rich coming from me (linguistic pedant and literary post-graduate), but the goal of language learning is not to develop perfect grammar, but to be able to express oneself precisely and magnificently. It doesn’t really matter if your little one tells you breathlessly that he went on a big train and ate a healthy snack. Wow! He shares his life and his thoughts with you, that’s sacred and something you probably wish he’d do more of when he’s older. A respectful response to this is to match and reflect his excitement WITHOUT CORRECTIONS and simply repeat his sentence using more grammatically correct words: ‘Joshua says he went on a train and ate a sandwich, wow! I can see you are so excited about it’. The more confident children feel in speaking, the more they usually do.

No denials

We had breakfast in an outdoor restaurant this morning and, as usual, talked with Joshua about the names of things around us. When we pointed to the shady umbrella that covered our table, he told us it was a kite. The automatic response to that is to say ‘No honey, that’s not a kite, it’s an umbrella’. Innocent enough, but deadly. I’m sure any parent knows the effectiveness of any sentence that begins with the word “no” (closed ears, defiance, rage if you’re lucky and withdrawal or shame if you’re not), but more than that, there reasoning process to your child’s responses that beg for respect. When I observed that umbrella I noticed that it consisted of several arranged wooden poles with material pulled tightly over it – exactly like a kite! Instead of discouraging Joshua, we complimented him on noticing that similarity, so he left with his esteem intact, plus two new words and, more importantly, some associative and comparative skills. Likewise, rather than ‘No dear, that’s not grandma’, say ‘Yes, I can see why you think it’s grandma, she has the same hair colour! Well done for noticing. Now, how can you tell it’s not actually grandma?’ I would go so far as to say that when it comes to everyday conversation with your child it is never helpful to respond by saying ‘No’ (unless of course you want them to stop talking!)

Synonymous city

I have never knowingly, or knowingly, sat down with Joshua to work on his vocabulary (can you imagine anything more boring?). Instead, I just use opportunities in our daily chats to bring up new, and more complicated, words. I ‘synonymize’ all the time! ‘Can you see all those people on that bus, dear? How many passengers are in that bus. Where do you think all the travelers on that bus are going?’ Without being “educational”, that is to connect in his mind “people-on-bus” with “passengers” and “travelers”. And it was great for flexing my own mental muscles too.

Q and A

We try not to answer questions for Joshua that he could answer himself. So if he says ‘what’s in that pot mum?’ I don’t tell him, but instead take the pot and say ‘What do YOU ​​see in that pot? It helps him find words in his mind and is wonderful for imagination (we apparently cooked an elephant many times). ‘Where are those people going dad?’ turns into the question ‘Where do you think those workers might travel to my boy?’ It should also be known that this technique disappears in some cases. When we are tired, or sick, or tired, we will do whatever it takes to (a) speed up the journey to bed (b) create some peace and quiet and/or (c) keep ourselves sane. . That too is allowed.

Chatting while bubbling

If you have a particularly active child who can’t sit still for half an hour any more than I can hop on one leg for half an hour, then it might be a challenge to spend a decent amount of time doing things (like reading or talking. ) that develop vocabulary. We have realized the value of bath time in this regard. Up to a certain age, children are a captive audience while in the bath and, as such, it is easier to follow a story or learn a song there because there are no options to run, climb, jump or crawl instead! Treat bath time as a very special window of opportunity for your child’s language development. From a very young age, we sang two nursery rhymes to Joshua in the bath every night (Twinkle, Twinkle and Incy Wincy Spider) complete with actions, funny accents and comical facial expressions. After about the millionth repetition (or so it seemed) he started copying us, not necessarily with the words (he was only 6 months old) but with some of the basic movements and sounds. Since then we have added to our repertoire – thankfully – but we still spend most of our time in the bath singing or making up stories. If you have more than one adult in the car at the same time, the same can be true of the time your child is strapped into a car seat.

Basically, encouraging a love of language in your child is far more important than working on actual skills. The basic recipe for this – as it usually is with children – is a foundation of empowerment and respect with liberal sprinkles of fun. Full stop

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