The development of speech and language skills is often discussed and targeted when our kids start talking, or don’t start talking. But we should be thinking about language development so much earlier!
How much earlier? The moment a baby is born. Or maybe give that baby a few days to adapt to their new world, and then start working on it.
How do you start working on speech and language skills with a newborn? It is so easy (so easy, a newborn can do it)! The very first skill a child needs for speech and language development is imitation. You can teach this skill by modeling it, and in this case, modeling the actions of your child. They yawn, you yawn. They coo, you coo. They wave their arm, you wave your arm. Research shows that babies have the ability to imitate movements in the first few months of life. How amazing is that? So let’s start early!
When your child is already understanding the basics of imitation, the ability of imitating speech and language will come more easily. I like to think of speech and language like learning how to swim. We start out learning how to imitate large kicks, we move into imitating fine tuned arm movements, and before we know it, we are learning how to imitate high level breathing patterns.
Much like speech and language, we start out imitating large body and mouth movements. We move into imitating basic sounds, such as lip popping and raspberries…and before we know it we are coordinating lots of fine tuned movements to produce words!
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