Children can develop language skills only if they have many opportunities to talk, listen and use language to solve problems and learn about the world.
Long before your child enters school, you can do many things to help her develop language. You can:
Give your child opportunities to play. Play is how children learn. It is the natural way for them to explore, to become creative, to learn to make up and tell stories and to develop social skills. Play also helps children learn to solve problems--for example, if her wagon tips over, a child must figure out how to get it upright again. When
they stack up blocks, children learn about colors, numbers, geometry, shapes and balance. Playing with others helps children learn how to negotiate.
Support and guide your child as she learns a new activity. Parents can help children learn how to do new things by "scaffolding," or guiding their efforts. For example, as you and your toddler put together a puzzle, you might point to a piece and say, "I think this is the piece we need for this space. Why don't you try it?" Then have the child pick up the piece and place it correctly. As the child
becomes more aware of how the pieces fit into the puzzle, you can gradually withdraw your support.
Talk to your child, beginning at birth. Your baby needs to hear your voice. Voices from a television or radio can't take the place of your voice, because they don't respond to your baby's coos and babbles.
You child needs to know that when he makes a certain sound, for example, "mamamamamama," that his mother will response--she will smile and talk back to him. The more you talk to your baby, the more he will learn and the more he will have to talk about as he gets older.
Everyday activities provide opportunities to talk, sometimes in detail, about what's happening around him. As you give your child a bath, for
example, you might say, "First let's stick the plug in the drain. Now let's
turn on the water. Do you want your rubber duck? That's a good idea. Look, the duck is yellow, just like the rubber duck we saw on 'Sesame
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