Have you ever wondered why your child doesn’t speak yet? Why is my child not progressing to phrases from words? All of these are the questions frequently raised by parents of toddlers which are usually left unanswered.
A normally developing child has to start talking at the age of 1 year wherein he/she will be making small words and then later progresses with age into sentences and long phrases. At times, parents are ignorant about their child’s speech and language development and do not see the warning signs until their child is more than 3 years old.
When a child is identified and treated by speech and language therapy before 3 years the prognosis is even better and faster compared to treatment received after 3 years of age, which is medically termed as early identification and intervention.
Research suggests that children between the ages of birth and 3 develop better overall when they have dedicated playtime with their parents. It also showed that guided play—as opposed to joint play with peers or open-ended play—resulted in increased IQ scores, better outcomes for later language and school success, and stronger comprehension skills.
In addition, playing with the right toys—blocks, puzzles, trains—and narrating playtime improved skills like verbal reasoning, visio-spatial planning and deductive reasoning.
The following are few tips for parents of toddlers.
- Parents are key : Kids learn more when their parents play with them and guide their interactions.
- Conversations are a must : Kids end up speaking more fluently and clearly when parents learn how to keep conversations going.
- Asking questions is critical : Kids improve their vocabulary and verbal reasoning scores when they are asked “why” questions.
- Exaggerated prosodic speech works : A sing-song approach to talking while playing is dynamite for language development.
- The type of toy matters : Classic toys, like puzzles, blocks, dolls and meal sets improve Visuo-spatial skills, social-emotional-bonding abilities and overall communication skills.
It’s important for parents to set aside time each day to play with their kids, even if it is just for 10 minutes. Reading studies and sharing results with parents helps me convince them how important finding time for guided play and conversations is for helping their kids reach target goals. Given the time crunch and pressure parents feel, I realize the most important message to deliver is “playtime” can look like a wide variety of activities. Playtime can range from sitting down to play with blocks or puzzles to performing a chore together, like drying the dishes, so long as parents keep the conversation going and really listen to their kids. If we can deliver this message, then we fuel parents with easy, practical and insightful tools based on real evidence to help their little ones.
The above mentioned tips will work through only if your child is developing language normally from 1 year of age or if diagnosed as speech and language skills within normal limits by a trained Speech and language therapist.
The key takeaway is that always look for signs that a child might require a speech language therapist. The sooner the child is treated; the better is the chance for the child to fully develop and life a full life.
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