Dr. Julia takes a look at Stages of Language Development in the Preschooler
When I look at kids in the early child development stages, I am convinced that they are geniuses!
Who else can learn a language by mere exposure? By one year of age they understand the majority of what's being said around them. They’re able to express themselves and communicate their wants by using what words they've deemed the most important to start off with.
Then, by not much more than two years of age, they're forming sentences! Although the sentences may be somewhat fragmented, they manage to use all four types successfully.
"We go bye-byes?"
"We go bye-byes!"
"I get me shoes."
"You put me shoes on."
Instinctively, they even start adding suffixes to the ends of words in order to express tense or possession.
"I hitted me head," might not be correct, but it's amazing that they realize that they want to use the past tense of "hit", so they add the suffix "ed". I call that genius!
I find it truly amazing that a child doesn't need definitions in order to understand – they learn contextually! They put it all together and comprehend even our long winded speeches in their early child development without every word being defined or explained.
Sure, you may correct their grammar here and there. Articulation is a little sticky for a while and needs some practice. And there are times when words may need some explanation. But for the most part, you don’t "teach" a child their mother tongue – they actually learn it on their own by listening and observation.
Drop me off with a family in China for two years and I might luck out and learn the Chinese word for rice in a desperate attempt to avoid starvation. But I am pretty sure that I would spend two years in absolute and utter confusion. I am entirely too old to be a genius!
Three Levels of Language Skills
Did you ever meet a preschool child with the vocabulary and articulation of an Oxford University graduate that makes you question your own grasp of the English language?
If you have, you can pretty much bet that this child has spent a lot of time around adults. If not an only child, their siblings are either quite a bit older or much younger then they.
Those around them are articulate and speak clearly. Therefore, you have a child that is articulate and speaks clearly... and corrects you if you say ain't.
Did you ever meet a preschool child that you thought perhaps may be visiting from a foreign country?
You recognize some English words, but without the aid of an interpreter, your only hope is to smile and say things like, "Yes!", or "Oh?", and "Oh my!" and hope that you're supplying appropriate responses.
This is most likely a child that spends a lot of time with young children who also speak this combination of English and foreign tongue known only to those thirty inches tall and under. They are most likely not the firstborn and/or have siblings very close to their own age.
This child's primary conversations are with those that mispronounce eight out of ten words and whose enunciation is not much different than a Looney Tunes character.
Somewhere in between these two extremes lie the typical early child development of the preschooler's language skills.
How to Help Language Skills in Early Child Development Stages
Helping a child in the early child development stages of language development is very simple, and for the most part quite natural.
Use Good Grammar
You as the parent must use good grammar if you expect your child to - right? They're listening. If they hear poor grammar long enough, proper grammar will sound wrong in their ear! So they’ll choose to say something incorrectly because that's what sounds right to them!
Read Out Loud
The educational value of reading aloud is priceless in early child development! Not only is the child learning about science, nature, or far off times and lands, but also how to sit still and pay attention.
Unwittingly, vocabulary is enhanced and grammar is reinforced. Comprehension and retention skills are exercised, and a love for reading is developed.
Do I have to say it's very entertaining to all who participate, as well as a wonderful way to spend time together?
As you can see, reading out loud to a child kills many, many birds with just one stone. You may want to read indoors to avoid injuring the poor things!
Articulation can be exercised through singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes and poems. If a child has trouble properly pronouncing words, here is where you can identify and work on these "problem sounds".
For instance, words containing r or s often plague the preschooler. Let the child watch your mouth as you say words that give them trouble so they can see how to say the word.
Sometimes trouble articulating certain sounds can be caused by the shape of the child's mouth, by teeth that are developing, or the need for braces. Even in such cases, articulation can be bettered with proper exercise.
Of course, any early child development in language by a child from Boston can simply ignore the letter r if they still so desire.
I personally just don't think clam chowder sounds as appetizing as clam chowduh!