In the earliest years, few things are as highly anticipated and nurtured as a child’s developing language skills. Language learning in children is a complicated, yet natural process involving a number of factors and influences.
Language Learning in Early Childhood
It’s no secret that reading to children and frequent conversations via immersion are critical components of a child’s learning process. Continual interactions with language – both written and verbal – are highly regarded by some as being the most important aspect of language learning.
During a child’s earliest years, they pick up skills and make associations between sounds and objects via interactions with their environments and those around them. In large part, it is simply a natural progression that takes place over time, using repetition and being immersed in specific linguistics, but there is much more to language learning than simply being around it.
From birth until middle childhood, children’s brains are essentially primed for language learning at impeccable rates. They grasp linguistic keys from practically every aspect of their environments from casual daily conversations going on around them to nightly bedtime stories.
“Language acquisition is a product of active, repetitive, and complex learning. The child’s brain is learning and changing more during language acquisition in the first six years of life than during any other cognitive ability (they) are working to acquire.” – Scholastic.com.
The earliest few years of a child’s life is the most crucial period for expanding their communication skills. After this point, hormonal changes will begin to hinder their ability to further pick up language learning on the same level. Because of this, it’s important to find ways to make the most of the critical communication window.
More Than Just Talking
Helping our children get the most advantageous benefits during their peak language learning years is an important part of their advancement. While most parents know that reading to your children on a regular basis is an excellent way to help them develop their communication skills, there are a number of other ways that are just as important.
Children learn by being immersed in language and witnessing others interacting as frequently as possible. Having basic conversations and engaging them with a pointed, inquisitive nature, will help them develop critical thinking skills as well as gathering the basics needed for all forms of more complex communications later in life.
Other excellent teaching methods include using any form of medium that makes learning more fun and engaging. Easy ways to expand their vocabulary can be through music, poetry, comic books, or even cooking can give a fun twist to learning new words.
The important thing to keep in mind, however, is to understand that communication is more than simply learning how to speak or use correct grammar. It is just as important to help your child develop effective listening skills as well.
“Engage children in listening exercises. We often forget that language is both receptive and expressive… It is essential that children are listening, receiving accurately and processing effectively what they hear,” explains Scholastic.com.
Overall, the best advantage you can give your child is to understand that their earliest years give the greatest opportunity for communication advancement. Utilize those years by maximizing their exposure to language learning opportunities from every angle.