Nurturing Language Development in Young Children


30 May 2024

Kindergarten Boy Playing With Flash Cards

Did you know that over 85% of a child’s physical brain growth happens within the first three years of life? Findings have identified a correlation between inadequate early literacy skills and enduring academic challenges throughout one’s life. That is why fostering language development in children from the early stages is so important.

As parents, your role in enhancing your child’s language skills is pivotal. Research indicates that parents wield significant influence over their children’s language and brain development through simple yet impactful actions, like engaging them in conversation. Armed with the right knowledge and skills, you can effortlessly contribute to your child’s literacy and brain development.

Keep reading for some tips on navigating the exciting journey from babbling to meaningful conversations.

1. Engage in Responsive Interactions

Responsive interactions form the basis of language development so pay close attention to your child’s cues, respond to their babbling, and encourage them to express themselves. 

This technique to create a supportive environment for language exploration is also practised in preschools like My First Skool (MFS). For children aged 0 – 3, educators practise responsive, reciprocal and respectful interactions with the children by acknowledging the cues of children through parallel talk (e.g. telling the children what they are doing). The serve and return in interactions motivate children to respond to educators. For children aged 4 – 6, educators actively promote children’s participation in class discussions and create opportunities for them to build confidence through show-and-tell sessions with both teachers and peers. The outcome is the development of confident and effective communicators for life.

2. Talk, Talk, Talk

Educational Pastime Develop Creativity Skill in Kid

Constant verbal engagement is crucial. Start by describing daily activities, sharing experiences, and if your child is older, encouraging them to articulate their thoughts. In fact, research revealed that 30-month-olds exposed to a higher volume of spoken words from nearby adults exhibited increased myelin in brain regions associated with language. Myelin, which envelops nerve cells, enhances communication efficiency between cells. This emphasises that the benefits of talking to children include literally shaping their brains while nurturing language development in their early years, laying a foundation that will prove beneficial for years to come. 

Beyond language development and vocabulary enhancement, these routines also create a deeper connection between you and your little one.

3. Read Aloud Regularly

Reading aloud to children is a powerful tool for language enrichment but make sure to choose age-appropriate books and make it a daily ritual. It is a good habit to adopt that not only exposes your child to new words but also instils a passion for reading. 

For instance, at Little Skool-House (LSH), an early childhood education centre in Singapore, the literacy-based curriculum for 4 to 6-year-olds includes structured reading and literacy assessments. These assessments are crafted to promote independent reading aligned with each child’s unique pace and capabilities. Educators initiate the process by conducting individual assessments of your child’s Language and Literacy skills. Subsequently, the programme is adjusted accordingly to maintain your child’s confidence and foster a genuine love for reading.

4. Sing and Rhyme

Little Girl Playing Drum at Home

Music is a universal language and incorporating songs and rhymes into your child’s daily routine can be immensely beneficial. This not only makes language enjoyable but also aids in memory retention. 

Music, like melodies, helps kids learn language. Kids as young as 3 or 4 can understand musical patterns and remember how songs sound. Another study found that kids aged 5 to 7 who could tell different melodies apart also understood emotions in sentences better. This shows that learning basic music skills helps with understanding language better. 

5. Create Language-Rich Environments

A language-rich environment is a setting where language is not only abundant but also diverse and interactive. It encompasses verbal communication, exposure to written words, and opportunities for meaningful conversations. Such an environment is crucial in shaping your child’s vocabulary, comprehension, and overall language proficiency.

That is why at LSH, storytelling stands out as the most compelling tool of communication, enveloping children in the wonder of endless possibilities. It serves as a powerful means for educators to convey complex ideas in an engaging and welcoming manner, facilitating comprehension and effective communication of concepts in both English and Mandarin.

6. Encourage Pretend Play

Pretend play involves children creating scenarios, taking on roles, and immersing themselves in fictional worlds. This form of learning through play may enhance their language skills. Encouraging children to share their imaginative narratives helps them further their language development.

At MFS, we incorporate interactive games and activities into lessons to enhance children’s language development.

Empowering Tomorrow’s Voices

Weaving these language development strategies into your daily routine as parents not only strengthens the bond with your child but also sets the stage for their future success. However, the demands of modern life, such as busy work schedules, can pose challenges. That is where preschools like MFS and LSH step in, offering valuable support to parents by providing an enriching environment for their children’s growth and development.

These are NTUC First Campus’s early childhood education centres in Singapore. By combining your efforts at home with the expertise of dedicated educators, you pave the way for a holistic approach to language development. 

Find out more about NTUC First Campus’s curriculum here.

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