Speech Development for Toddlers
As parents, what excites and worries us at the same time the most is waiting for our toddlers to finally speak and utter their first set of words! We even look forward in waiting to hear “Mama” and “Dada” from the toddlers and we even make logical meanings out of the “unintelligible/unrecognizable” words that our toddlers are fond of creating. We enthusiastically believe that such ability to speak for toddlers is a very big milestone of their lives!
We sometimes think of possible reasons when toddlers cannot speak at all when the time comes that they are already expected to speak the basic set of words. We get worried and frustrated when we try our best to teach them and yet they just seem to babble with senseless words that only them could understand. We also often times compare them to other toddlers that we know and it gives us the chills just imagining that the toddler will forever be unable to speak properly. Let us take note that in average, children develop speaking skills at a different rate. Others may be faster in acquiring the skills while the others are quite lagging behind.
Usually the toddlers by 3 years old can listen and remember stories backed up with photos, comprehend longer instructions such as ‘where’s the cat?’ or ‘get your bear’, understand the WH questions (what, where, who, when, and why), use different speech sounds but with shortened words such as ‘nana’ with ‘banana’, and they sometimes seem to stammer or stutter in expressing their ideas even before their language skill is developed completely.
To fully facilitate the speech development of toddlers, there are also set of activities that can be done to help them reach the maximum potential of their speech capability as toddlers. From childbirth up to two years of age, we can emphasize to the toddlers the vowel and consonant sounds such as ‘ma’, ‘da’, and ‘ba’, reinforce the communication by establishing eye contact and doing a vocalizations with the sounds, raising of pitch for asking questions, and the best strategy is to read stories to toddlers. Make sure that the stories have different varied colorful pictures to fully facilitate the reading comprehension development of the toddler.
At the age of 2 – 4 years old, we can make use of speech that is clear and simple for the toddler to model or imitate. We can also begin asking questions that are answerable by simple words too. Through this, the toddlers can create a connection between the speech and the objects or things around them. Expanding the vocabulary of the toddlers is also a recommendation for this age, we may ask them to name body parts and their specific functions. The use of simple nursery rhymes is also suggested for it caters the development of rhythm and pattern of speech.
And by the age of 4 – 6 years old, the best recommendation that I can give is to establish a one on one communication with the toddlers whenever possible. There should be a full attention when the child speaks for it entails the value of listening and we also would like that to be developed in them along with speech development. By building a connection in speaking by giving attention, we make the toddlers feel important as well as the things that they say. We should also do not forget to give positive remarks or praises whenever they say good things and pronounce words properly for it encourages them to continue developing their skills. They should also be introduced with new words that are comprehensible or can be understood at their level.
To sum it up, speech development is indeed a factor that we should focus on developing with our toddlers. We should not just let the kids on their own but rather, our proper guidance is needed for them to learn fully. But despite all our efforts, if we still notice that there is still something wrong with the way our toddlers speak, it is much better to have a visit with a medical expert (pediatrician) for possible assistance and remediation needed.
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