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3 min read

Communication skills are so much more than just a milestone on a checklist.

Teaching our children how to communicate makes everyone's lives easier and less frustrating.

These skills help our children to develop relationships, express their thoughts, and get their needs met.

The Montessori approach to early language acquisition is fun. For younger children, it promotes bonding and brain development, through serve and return (more on what that is below).

For older children, it follows the child by focusing on topics of interest to the child.

Here's the 4 Ways To Develop Language Skills - From Infancy into Early Childhood

1. For Infants - Help them make the "Word/Object Connection"

To encourage early language development, start by helping your infant understand that words have meaning (i.e. whenever mom points to a ball, she says ball).

You can do this by holding objects near your mouth when you name them so your child can see your mouth move or pointing by pointing to the object when you name it. You can even point to yourself when saying "mama" or "dada".

Early on, this helps your child to understand that words are more than sounds and that each word holds a meaning.

2. For Infants & Toddlers - Talk to your child

Simply exposing your child to language will help them grow their vocabulary.

What can you talk about? Anything! Name things, tell them what you're doing, ask questions (did you hear that dog barking?), and copy their sounds.

According to The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, one of the best things you can do for early brain development is serve and return. The child "serves" by reaching out for interaction, with eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, babbling, or touch.

A responsive caregiver will "return the serve" by speaking back, playing peekaboo, smiling, hugging or making eye contact and acknowledging the interaction.

Just note that most language exposure shouldn't be from a screen. Children need to see how your mouth and tongue move when you speak, which can be hard to see on a screen.

3. For Toddlers and Young Children - Slow Down Reading Time

Some days, depending on everyone's energy and mood, books will just be for reading straight through.

On days when your child is feeling extra chatty, go through books slowly and talk about what's going on in the book and how it relates to your life.

Not only will this develop communication skills but it helps you to know what your child is currently interested in.

4. For Toddlers & Children - Introduce Words In a Stress-Free Way

It can be tempting to quiz our children about all the new words we've taught them but too much of that can feel discouraging and frustrating. They're learning so SO much during these early years, it takes time to remember all the words in their constantly growing vocabulary.

A more effective way of teaching words is the Montessori Three Period Lesson.

In short, the three periods are:

1. Naming (Introduction) "This is a dog."
2. Recognizing (Identification) "Show me the dog."
3. Remembering (Cognition) "What is this?"

The idea is that you only move to the next period when you’re sure that your child will succeed.

You can go here to read the full post here about what this is: https://themontessoriroom.com/blogs/montessori-tips/an-easy-way-to-improve-your-child-s-confidence

It makes learning feel more like a game than a lesson. This is a common approach to teaching vocabulary in our Montessori At-Home Program because it's so great for boosting confidence and having fun while learning.

For older children that have reached the third period, just remember that it takes them longer to process info than an adult. Rather than repeating your question, count to 10 in your head, giving them time to think and process.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask For Help

If you're ever worried about your child's language or speech development,
speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are an amazing resource.

Not only do they have the tools to get your child on track, they can also help with non-verbal communication, like sign language, to make it easier for your child to communicate sooner and they can put your mind at ease about the process.

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