I love seeing the signs of children’s language development. Seeing it?
We are privileged to hear young children’s language development in their increased engagement in conversation with peers and trusted adults. The joy of hearing a baby’s first sounds, babble and words is to be celebrated considering their lifetime ahead of them of conversations, presenting speeches to rooms full of people and motivating others through their power of language.
Expressive language starts with expressive sounds “da, da, da” then babble which is a string of sounds – babies have worked out that others around them have many sounds to say (aren’t they clever) progressing to singular words followed then by using singular words to associate meaning.
Telegraphic speech is the next progression
Shortened phrases “Me want drink” and then language using sentence structure “Can I have a drink please?”. We hear development of clarity of sounds and new words being used in context and we also hear sentences becoming more complex, especially when children engage with each other. Through their play ideas, children will give each other directions and explain the steps of involvement needed to contribute to the play. The recognition of hearing language development in children is joyous and exciting because we as Educators know what this means.
But how do we see it???
Increased language leads to more complex cognizant thoughts structure. What does this mean?
When we think, our brains are talking to us. We think in words …. “If I put this here, then maybe this will happen”, so you can imagine how quickly children’s problem-solving skills, personal research and negotiation is developing. You have to see it and associate this thinking as language development as well.
With this children’s emotional development expaaaaaaands. There are now thoughts of how much they love their family – their language thoughts are now complex to not just be about themselves (because prior to this their language thought may have been dependent on how to communicate – now it is developing to what to communicate). Parents will often recognise their child becoming upset at drop offs or needing to be around them more – a regression of independence, but I don’t. This is a sign of language development. Children are expressing that they really love the important people in their lives.
Their thoughts are emotionally taking meaning.
Another indicator of language development for me is when a child is showing increased crying and frustration, this shows me that the child’s thoughts are wanting to challenge the instructions but their language structure knowledge may not know how to express this socially. This can be recognised as wanting to assert their sense of agency.
So, what do we do with this information?
I’m not suggesting we cloak children in golden rays and worship their every word because that’s not the world as we know it and sometimes for our own mental coping, we just need our children to co-operate with the bigger family plan without understanding it.
But the moments of needing and protesting are golden opportunities of how you as their parents want to build the lifelong relationship you will share with your children. The ground work starts at these instances. Seeing this language development being expressed means your child is wanting to be communicated with and wanting to be heard. Do you want your 17yr old son feeling open to communicate with you on any topic because they know you will support them? Do you want your 20yr old daughter confiding in you her deepest thoughts because she knows you will listen?
The opportunity to acknowledge development of language and help to support this with your child will pay into the future.
When a friend has worries or is upset we will usually suggest to meet for a cuppa and talk about it ( hopefully after COVID-19) So wanting to be true, emotionally and cognizantly best of friends in the future with our children throughout their life time, is seeing the signs of their language development.
Written by Michelle Richards
Early Childhood Teacher/ Educational Leader