Children start learning at a very early age. Even babies can correlate cause and effect through the responses of their parents to their cries. Learning a language comes naturally to toddlers and babies — oftentimes exceeding adult capabilities.
Children below the age of 7 can easily learn languages and different concepts, as long as these subjects are introduced in interesting and engaging ways. Here’s how to develop your child’s language skills.
Start them young
Talk to your child or baby as if they are an adult. Introduce basic objects, ideas, and concepts they can easily understand. For babies 12 months and older, you can introduce phonics. For preschools, integrating phonics into their programs prove to be a successful strategy in teaching children to read at early ages.
At home, just playing with your child can already be valuable moments of learning and bonding. A toy plane can teach a child the concept of colour, directions, motion, gravity, and many others. Your child can easily make connections between spoken words and the objects around them or the concepts at work.
Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to learn, and try not to “dumb down” conversations so that they can understand as this can prove to be counterproductive.
Expose them to different languages
Don’t postpone teaching your child another language for the reason that they haven’t mastered the first one. Languages are learned independently from each other, and toddlers can understand the underlying concepts in a language even before the can use them properly.
Speak as many languages as you can to your child. Most multi-lingual people grew up in multi-lingual households. If you are studying a foreign language, use visual tools and let your child study with you. Your child might even absorb and retain more knowledge than you will.
Videos and TV shows for preschool children are great learning tools, but music — without a clear accompanying video — is not helpful. Children need to equate words with objects and concepts.
Songs, on the other hand, lack a visual element and children tend to only memorise them without learning much. However, songs can be great mnemonic aids for children to remember things that they have already learned.
Never stop teaching
Children are naturally inquisitive and willing to learn. Their ability to learn new languages and complicated concepts usually peak between the ages of 1 and 7 — gradually dropping until they reach puberty.
Teaching children early maximises the use of their learning potential. Learning new languages, ideas, concepts, and even the simple names of the things around them — increases the neural pathways between the different parts of the brain.
Imparting a love of learning to your child also gives them the necessary tools to succeed outside the home. Skills such as keen observation, critical thinking, and problem-solving, as well as listening and focusing — are all honed through everyday learning activities at an early age.
Learning additional languages is becoming increasingly important, especially as the world gets more connected day by day. Being able to speak two or more languages opens doors of opportunities for your child. Teach them early in life to give them a better chance of succeeding in the future.