Speech Development – Preschool

by Randi Horst, Speech Language Pathologist and Homeschool Mom

Babble business is not just for babies! It takes two to communicate. How we react to our lil’ ones’ interests and babbling is the groundwork for brain growth and communication. A recent article describes in detail the importance of parents “talking-through” their day, creating a language-rich environment for their young children.  

The surgeon highlighted in the article has researched the correlation between IQ and the words used in a home. His explanation of the impact parents have, and his mission to educate parents on their role in development, is encouraging to this homeschooling speech language pathologist!

Talking to your new nugget from day one is a very important, powerful way to foster development beyond eye contact and smiles. When your infant is having time on a blanket and he doesn’t have his pacifier or bottle, he will be more likely to make a new sound. When he does, go to him and imitate him. By taking turns in this conversation, you’re helping to connect neurons in his rapidly growing brain. Talking and singing to your baby throughout the day might seem to go unnoticed, but his brain is responding and growing as you bond with that blessing.

With an older baby or toddler, “talking through” your day would include explaining to her what you’re doing as you unload the dishwasher or fold clothes. For example, laundry time could sound like this: “Mommy’s shirt, sock … where is the other sock? Oh, there it is! Daddy’s pants, big sock, little sock, sock, sock, sock!” If your toddler starts to imitate those words and you’re having a hard time understanding him or her, don’t be alarmed; there’s a wide range of normal sound development for our new talkers. Consider that God made our mouths to help us eat as well as communicate, and we can build strength and coordination for speech sounds by encouraging mature eating and drinking. An easy strength builder is having your toddler drink from an open cup with assistance during meals. She’ll be excited about the “big girl” cup and won’t even know she’s building jaw strength and control, both necessary for tongue mobility used in those sounds you’d like to hear.

In the meantime, continue to talk! Normal language development involves understanding what is heard around us before we use words ourselves, so don’t be discouraged if you’re the only one making noises or words. This is not a one-way business. Her little brain is responding, whether you can see it or not.

Randi is a member of  CHEWV’s new Special Needs Exploratory Committee which is making plans for a chewv.org section about struggling learners.  Watch for exciting updates about this project!