How to help your child talk and grow smarter: listening skills in his first year.

Your baby learns to talk by listening to you speaking. He needs to hear you clearly and concentrate on what you say. He may have perfect hearing, but if your words are drowned out by noise from the TV, he can’t pick out what you say. Turn all external noises off for at least an hour every day.
Children raised in noisy places find it hard to concentrate. They may find it hard to sleep properly, and they never learn to listen carefully and concentrate on one thing at a time.
Help your child learn to listen, and he will pay attention and concentrate. Knowing how to concentrate stands him in good stead when he goes to school.


Soothing noises
Learning to listen is a skill that your child begins to learn at birth, when he turns his head to your voice. Notice how your quiet voice soothes him, while loud noises startle him and may make him cry. He may like to listen to the washing machine or vacuum cleaner, as the quiet rumbles they make sound a little like the noises he heard before he was born, and he will love to listen to you talking or singing quietly.


Over-stimulation
While your baby is tiny, too many new sights, sounds and people can over-stimulate him. Be prepared to take him to a quiet place and soothe him if he becomes fractious. Everything seems new and strange to him, and he needs plenty of peaceful sleep. While he sleeps, his brain busily builds connections and helps him to make sense of the world.


As your baby grows, he spends longer periods awake and alert. Make sure he hears your voice, not voices from the television. He learns best from you, because you can adjust your voice and your words to his needs. Spend time with him and let the housework wait.


First year
Notice how your baby listens attentively to the noises around him during his first year. He may stop what he’s doing to listen to a new sound, and turn to search for something interesting, such as the sound of another baby. Watch how quickly he turns to hear a quiet rustle of paper behind his back.


From around six months, he’ll recognize familiar words. When you say the name of a family member, he’ll turn to look at her. He’ll enjoy the sound of his own voice and make repetitive babbling nonsense sounds, such as 'ba-ba-ba'. He’ll love to spend time with you, copying your babbling noises and laughing with delight.

If you'd like to find out how to help your child talk and grow smarter, check out this Kindle eBook.

Storytelling: The Globes

Every story tells another story. Here's a simple tale: I wonder what it means for you?

In a tiny white house in the forest, lived a mother and her three sons. One day, the oldest child asked,     “What will I be when I grow up?” His mother opened a black velvet bag. Out rolled a globe. It dazzled the boy, glittering blue and silver. He gasped.

     “It’s the sea,” he cried. He saw the ocean stretching out before him, meeting a distant horizon. He heard gulls cry and smelled the salty spray. His mother put his globe away.

     “When you are grown,” she said, “you may look in it again.”

     When her second son was five, he asked,

     “What will I be when I grow up?” She opened a black, velvet bag. Out rolled a globe, pulsing with a deep light.

     “It’s purple,” whispered her son, “like the sky at night. Why, I can see the stars.” He shivered with delight in the cold night air. She put his globe away.

     “When you are grown,” she said, “you may look in it again.”

     Her third son reached his fifth birthday.

     “What will I be when I grow up?” he asked. She opened a black, velvet bag. Out rolled a globe. 
      “It’s green, like the grass,” he cried, “and golden yellow like the fields at harvest.” He thought he heard the wind, rustling the ears of corn. He felt the warmth of the sun on his face. She put his globe away.      “When you are grown,” she said, “you may look in it again.”

     Many years later the three sons sat around their mother’s table on her birthday.

     “Do you remember,” asked the eldest son, proud in his Navy uniform, “the globe you let me see when I was five? It showed me I should be a sailor. How did you know you should choose a blue globe?”

     “Do you remember,” asked the second son, the famous astronomer, “you let me see the stars in the sky in my globe. It showed me I should explore the universe. How did you know you should choose a purple and silver globe?”

     “Do you remember,” asked the third son, glancing happily at his muddy boots by the door, “you let me see the green of the grass and the golden harvest in my globe. It showed me I should be a farmer. How did you know you should choose a green and yellow globe?”

     “We’re grown now,” they said. “We have wives and children of our own. May we see our globes again?” Their mother showed them one black, velvet bag.

     “Only one?” they asked, puzzled. “Which globe is it?” Out rolled one pure, crystal globe. For a moment it lay, flat and dull, until as the light caught it, all the colours of the rainbow spilled across the table.

     “I could not choose for you,” she said. “How could I know which paths you would take? But when each of you looked in the globe, you saw what you had chosen.”

If you like this story, there's an article on the SpeechContacts website about storytelling and why we need it, at http://www.getmeoffthehook.com/speechcontacts/comms.php

I write this Communication Blog

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Frances Evesham: on the run around Europe for years, with only a husband, three children and a succession of opinionated cats to keep me out of trouble. Somerset stopped me in my tracks. Now I walk in the country and breathe sea air. I will get around to cleaning the house soon.

I've been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. I sometimes work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs.

I smell the roses, lavender and rosemary as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.