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Early Communication Builds Language and Social Skills

By Too Small to Fail

Early Communication Builds Language and Social Skills

Human beings use many forms of communication to share thoughts, feelings and ideas with others. Language is a skill that is learned from birth by the back-and-forth dialogue that parents and other caregivers develop with their babies and toddlers. However, babies and toddlers communicate in a variety of ways before they are able to speak—including through coos, babbling, physical touch and even crying. The more parents and caregivers encourage early communication, the more their young children learn about how to express themselves.

According to the Urban Child Institute, the first form of communication that babies learn is touch. In countries where babies are often tied to a mother throughout the day, babies root and nurse when they’re hungry, long before they are ready to cry. Experts have found that the more responsive parents are to their children’s earliest needs by touching, talking gently and picking them up when upset, the more stable those children will be. In addition, children begin to learn actual language much before they are able to use words. In fact, research shows that children understand words and tones long before their first birthday.

There are many ways that parents and caregivers can help their children improve their early communication skills. ZERO TO THREE encourages parents to respond to a baby’s gestures and sounds by talking and cooing back to him, and picking him up when he lifts his arms. Also, parents can help their children build language skills by asking questions and exploring answers together, and by taking time to read, talk and sing with young children every day.

Resources for Sharing

VIDEO: A fascinating video from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, about how parents stimulate children’s early brain development through “serve and return”. >>

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