Talking is the most anticipated milestone for parents of a young child. When parents understand how their child learns to talk, they can help him work out his first words — and the outpouring of words that soon follow. In Time to Talk: What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Speech and Language Development, the authors, Michelle MacRoy-Higgins, Ph.D., and Carlyn Kolker, explain the complex systems going on as babies acquire and use language. They also cover what to look for and when, and how to spot red flags that could point to lagging development.
This illuminating, supportive guidebook is full of pointers for parents on their child’s progress — from speaking to reading and writing. The authors recommend that parents talk to your baby in utero (really), and after birth; and make sure to protect a child’s hearing from ear infections and loud environments. These are among many ways we can help a child become comfortable and competent with language.
There are also plenty of quick tips and nuggets of advice — in sections with reassuring titles, such as: “Common Questions, Expert Answers,” and “Simple Things to Do at Home.” For instance: if you have to raise your voice over the television, the volume is too loud for your child’s fragile eardrums. And e-books can actually hinder early literacy development. Also: speaking to your child in a language in which they aren’t proficient can limit their ability to acquire that language.
Time to Talk walks readers through the developmental patterns of hearing, speech, language, fluency, and literacy, sharing insights about what a child experiences and when, and how she masters each building block of language. From coos to babble to words to sentences, the journey unfolds in a prescribed way that parents can influence. The authors lay out a schedule of when a child should hit her developmental milestones to help parents recognize any delays or causes for concern. They also list the kinds of experts to consult, and possible treatments to expect, if there are warning signs. Because language skills build on each other, the authors stress that it’s important to seek help right away to fend off further problems.
An informative section on bilingualism reveals the cultural and educational benefits of immersion in more than one language — what’s known as the “bilingual advantage,” along with what age represents the sweet spot for easily acquiring another language. The authors describe a phenomenon young children experience when exposed to a second language that can manifest in a silent period in which they stop talking and simply listen.
My favorite section reveals how children tell a story through each stage of language development. For example, two year olds will refer to past events, but not use past tense. At age three and a half, they can combine two events. At age six, their stories provide detail, put actions in sequence, and have a climax and resolution.
Time to Talk is a treasure. It gives parents the information and confidence to build the best possible foundation for their children, enabling them to learn to beautifully communicate with the world.
Learn more at www.timetotalkbook.com.
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