As early as 12 months, young children begin to develop speech. By age 2 children know as many as 50 words. Language development is helped or hindered by many factors within a child’s environment. Education, income, family units, parent’s psychological adjustment, and the social and cognitive quality of the home all play contributing roles. A child’s language development can be affected by the home environment, but also by childcare facilities, the community and the social interactions that they have within these environments.
Safety and comfort are crucial to learning; therefore a safe and nurturing environment is conducive to language development. The home needs to be a place where the child can open up and grow. A balance of individual time, parent involvement and group activities with other children are also needed. Parents who get involved and play interactive games with their children see much better results. Books, music and interactive toys all stimulate and play an active part in brain development. It is important that children have access to these things at home, as they stimulate expression.
Prolonged interactions with other adults and children can have a significant impact on a child’s early language development. Therefore, working parents should give careful consideration to the facility and the people that will be spending a large chunk of the day with their children to ensure a positive outcome. Childcare facilities should offer group time and individualized support for language development. A teacher’s experience and education can play an important role, as well as the amount of time devoted to reading, the physical environment and the ratio of children to teachers. Higher quality child care is associated with better language development.
The community in which the child resides can also play an important role in early language development. Visiting new places can promote vocabulary and expression, making the community a place of stimulation. Access to interesting places like zoos, museums and parks increase the chances for stimulation, new vocabulary and language development. Even basic outings, like trips to the grocery store can play an important role. Parents are encouraged to interact with their children in these environments to increase positive outcomes.
While the environment plays a big part in early language development, the interactions that occur within these environments can determine a child’s ability to learn new words. Parents should spend time talking, reading, listening and interacting with their children on a regular basis. Reading to your child is especially vital, and should begin with age-appropriate books as early as 6 months. Interactions within the learning environment can have both positive and negative effects on a child’s language development.
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