Raising an articulate child requires encouraging language development and self-expression. It also means nurturing your child's ability to reason, imagine, and make logical connections between old knowledge and new knowledge. It means having fun with words from the moment they first lie in your arms. It means selecting quality influences for your child to produce quality behavior, whether it is a bedtime story or educational TV.
Babies listen to their mother while they are nursing. Lullabies, books read aloud and silly nursery rhymes that are spoken during this nurturing time are baby's first introduction to the wonderful world of words. One young college student read her textbooks aloud to her infant daughter, enabling interaction and some much needed study at the same time.
Like every other skill, articulation needs practice. Giggling when tickled, babbling, repeating phrases and words, and early speech are all part of articulation. When parents listen and respond to the sounds their baby makes, she is encouraged to make more sounds. Sharing nonsense rhymes, jokes and stories with children of all ages encourages word play which leads to an expanded vocabulary. Riddles exercise logic as well as encouraging wordplay. Telling riddles might be early practice in telling stories.
Bedtime stories have no substitute. Whether they are folk tales that have been handed down for generations or whether they are read aloud from books, a story at bedtime encourages listening skills, and helps children wind down before bed. Children who feel they are too old for bedtime stories might still enjoy listening to an age-appropriate audio book. Audio books model correct pronunciation of words.
While TV should never take the place of personal, interactive communication, educational programs for children can be beneficial. They expand both vocabulary and concepts, giving the child another way to look at the world. Encourage your child to tell you about their educational program right after they have watched it. Recounting the events gives them a chance to practice verbalizing, encourages recall and personalizes the experience.
If you maintain an interest in your child's questions, stories and chatter, you encourage her to practice speaking. This gives her an opportunity to try out new words, to learn to organize thoughts so that others understand them, and to respond to feedback. Encourage your child to write down some of her ideas. Foster word games, singing and any other activity that involves words.
Items you will need
- Age-appropriate books
- Poetry collections
- Audio books
- The Gentle Art of Communicating With Kids, Suzette Haden Elgin, 1996.
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