Why is Speech And Language Important in Your Child's Development?
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Encouraging the ability to speak clearly and process speech sounds are the fundamentals of speech pathology. But truly, child speech and language development are important for many reasons.
Why is speech and language important in a child's development? Let's explain.
First of all, a child should be able to express their needs, wants, and ideas. There is a plethora of problems that result from a child not feeling heard or understood, from anxiety to withdrawal.
Communication skills and the ability to interact with others is essential to the human experience, making speech and language incredibly important in a child's development. Assisting your child with these skills, whether at home or with a speech pathologist, creates the building blocks of healthy communication skills.
Socialising is a huge aspect of children's development. The ability to interact with others is key to forming friendships and creating bonds with parents, siblings, teachers, and others.
Children need to be able to understand language, put ideas together, and respond accordingly. These skills are essential to a healthy social life. Since humans are social animals, it is speech and language skills that are key to a child's development.
Foundations for Learning
Speech and language skills are the basis of many other types of learning. Think about it - anything we learn as children (and as adults) is through the foundations of language.
We listen to lectures. We read books. We tell stories and share experiences. All in an effort to learn something new and find our way in the world. Without a baseline of speech and language skills, children will have far more difficulty learning in the future.
Emotional and Behavioural Development
Proper speech and language skills give children the ability to understand others. When we learn that others have feelings and needs, just as we do, it helps us develop empathy and compassion. Generally, this understanding brings about significant emotional and behavioural developments.
Not only does speech and language help children develop compassion, but it also helps them to gain confidence and self-esteem. It's a good feeling to be understood. Therefore, speech and language skills also give children a baseline of emotional security and confidence.
Enables Children to Understand the World Around Them
As you put together all these benefits, it's clear that speech and language skills give children an ability to make sense of the world around them.
Communication skills, the ability to socialise in a healthy way, setting the foundations for learning, and encouraging emotional and behavioural skills are all cornerstones of human development.
Imagine not being able to understand what's going on around you. Imagine the inability to differentiate between what others are feeling and what they expect. Imagine not being able to express your feelings or get others to understand you.
Unfortunately, this is the experience of many young children with learning and cognitive disabilities. We need speech and language skills to make sense of our world. It's vitally important. Its why speech pathology is such an important sector. With speech pathology, we can help change the lives of kids with speech and language impairments.
Child Speech Development Milestones
If you're concerned about your child's speech and language development, here are the milestones that your child should be meeting.
Six to Twelve Months
- Recognises facial expressions and tones of voice
- Pays attention to sounds and voices
- Takes turns vocalising with others
- Recognises names for a few things
One to Two Years
- Responds to familiar requests like their name
- Understands common gestures like waving
- Can understand one keyword within a sentence, usually the noun
Two to Three Years
- Can follow two-part instructions
- Can point to body parts, clothing items, toys, food, etc when asked
- Names actions like run
- By two years old, has a vocabulary of between 250-300 words
- By three years old, has a vocabulary of about 1000 words
- Uses a minimum of 2-3 words in a sentence
- Talks to themselves in long monologues
- Talks about present events
- Understands simple grammar including regular plurals, articles, progressive (-ing), pronouns like ‘I', ‘you,' and ‘me', regular past tense, and possessive (dad's car)
- Understands basic position (up, down), size (big, small), quantity (1, 2), and other descriptors like loud, fast, or cold
- Understands and asks ‘what and where' questions
Three to Four Years
- Can follow three-part instructions
- Understands longer, more complex statements
- By four years old, has a vocabulary of about 1500 words
- Uses a minimum of 3-4 words in a sentence
- Talks about what they're doing
- Talks about the function of objects
- Talks about the past
- Understands grammar including the auxiliary (she is running), pronouns like ‘he' and ‘she', the connector ‘and', third-person singular (she runs), contracted negative (isn't), contracted copular (she's running), and past participle (it's broken)
- Understands more advanced positions (behind, near), size (short), quantity (3, every, none), as well as many colours
- Understands who questions
- Asks ‘what, why, when, and how' questions
Four to Five Years
- Follows the meaning of others' conversations
- Vocabulary continues to expand
- Understands colour and shape
- Can sort things into simple categories (animals, food)
- Uses a minimum of 4-5 sentences
- Talks about the past and future
- Understands grammar including the pronouns ‘theirs', comparative (-er, stronger, faster), superlative (big, bigger, biggest), ‘is' vs ‘are', past tense of ‘to be' (were), the connector ‘because', adverbs (-ly, quietly), and irregular plurals (men, mice)
- Mid-four-year-olds, uses more advanced positions (between, next), size (tall, fat), quantity (4, most, few)
- Late four-year-olds, early five-year-olds, uses more advanced positions (in front, corner), size (thin), quantity (5, pairs), similarities and differences
- Understands ‘how' questions
- Asks for the meaning of words
Five to Six Years
- Follows multi-step instructions
- Increased vocabulary comprehension
- Uses more complex sentences
- Uses imaginative language
- Can explain several attributes of an object
- Understands more complex grammar including irregular past tense (broke, fell)
- Understands time (tomorrow, later)
- Uses ‘how and where' questions
Six to Seven Years
- Can share ideas
- Can classify objects into more specific categories (form, colour, what it's made of)
- Gives short oral reports
- Makes jokes, uses sarcasm, argues, talks about movies, talks about the past in detail
- Develops written language
- Understands more complex positions like left and right
- Understands seasons, time of day, same, and different
- Understands the difference between reality and fantasy
- Can make predictions, justify decisions, provide solutions, and explain things
Seven to Eight Years
- Can listen for extended periods
- Can express their opinions
- Can retell both real and imaginary events
- Uses appropriate grammar in speech and written language
- Can problem-solve
- Asks questions to clarify information
If you find that your child hasn't met these milestones and you're worried that they're struggling either socially, emotionally, or with learning, consider talking to a speech pathologist.
Speech pathologists work with kids who have hearing impairments, cognitive issues, autism, lisps, motor skill conditions, feeding and swallowing problems, respiratory problems, issues with fluency and articulation, and more.