This extract introduces Listening, the second of the Five Keys that will unlock your child's language skills.
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Scientists know what happens to children when no one talks to them. Sadly, some children grow up without any conversation or play. Studying these children in detail have shown how lack of stimulation destroys their chances of being the smart people they should become.
Genie was a ‘wild child’, severely neglected by her parents who locked her in her room for 12 years. Her father hated children and terrified her mother into ignoring her completely, apart from giving her some basic food. Rescued at the age of thirteen, Genie learned to talk a little, but she never managed the kind of language skill most children show by 5 years of age.
Your baby learns to talk best if he listens to you talking regularly. The person who cares for him most of the time makes the best teacher for your baby. In most cases, but not all, his mother or father takes on that role. He uses this parent as his model for the future.
He needs to hear you clearly and concentrate on what you say. He may have perfect hearing, but if noise from the TV drowns out your words, he won’t be able to pick out what you say. Turn all external noise 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 find it hard to listen carefully and concentrate on one thing at a time.
Help your child learn to listen.
Learning to listen is a skill he begins to learn at birth, when he turns his head to your voice. 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 their quiet rumbles sound a little like the noises he heard before he was born. He likes to listen to you talking or singing quietly.
A newborn baby has good hearing and he quickly learns to turn towards a familiar sound. He starts to recognise your voice and relaxes when he hears you talking to him. New parents find they can soothe their baby by talking or singing quietly.
Hearing problems are a key reason for delayed language development. Many babies undergo hearing checks soon after birth, to pick up any problems as soon as possible. You should mention any worry you have over your child’s hearing to a health professional as soon as possible.
Come back next week for another extract, all about your baby's listening skills: why they matter and how you can help him learn to listen. A link will appear HERE.
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I write this Communication Blog
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.