Nurturing communication skills with Toddlers

The confident language abilities of your skilled speaker, even at two years old, will offer a strong indication of how well your child is going to manage when they start school.  And how well they will do within it.

Strong talkers – even at two-years-old – suggests a strong start at school

When a child starts school with a good vocabulary and confident communication skills, they are better able to understand what is asked of them.  This means that they can make better sense of the lesson and are more able to ask for help when they need it. 

These skills will then support your child’s development across a multitude of lifelong learning skills as they grasp things quicker and access what they need.  As this head start is then taken into Year One, and beyond, better outcomes are reflected throughout their school career and the life prospects that follow. 

Research shows language ability at 22-months old as highly predictive of achievement profiles throughout school

As your child grows and develops, all their features of Lifelong Learning are becoming more established.  It is then vital that you help your toddler to develop their speech and language.  And you can easily do this, provided you are mindful of their specific needs and abilities at this time.

While their language and communication skills are developing, this is unlikely to be at the same speed as their cognitive abilities.  That means that they will know what they want to say a lot sooner than they can clearly express it to you. 

The toddler years can see great frustrations as children struggle to be understood

As their vocabulary develops, they can begin to verbalise their needs and thoughts.  They are then able to make themselves understood.  And as obtaining what they want becomes easier, some of this frustration will pass.  Help develop your child’s vocabulary and their ability to use it through the opportunities you give them to practice.

Nurture communication with your toddler by talking to them – a lot!

As you talk with your child, ask them their opinion about things.  Share stories about your day and ask them for theirs as you promote an emotional togetherness that you will build on through the years. 

Talk all the time about the activity you are sharing as what you are doing becomes more clearly and deeply understood.  And at the same time, introduce a wider range of words as their vocabulary intensifies.  Use your imagination as you talk, discuss memories of events or plan future ones as you share different experiences.  Offer them a diverse mix of people, places and environments to experience as different social situations and behaviours are experienced.  All of which will nurture their communication skills. 

Support and encourage their attempts at learning as you promote your child’s individual journey

While this year can incorporate many frustrations, your child’s level of understanding is flourishing.  Viewed with a little knowledge and the right incentives you can encourage their motivations and capabilities.  With realistic expectations that both challenge and stimulate, offer them the experiences they need to establish this strong vocabulary.  And as you develop your toddler’s depth of understanding, know that this is supporting them for life.

This session is taken from our course: The Learning Child

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.   www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk

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