A mother is the first person an infant sees and also learns his/her first words from. However, before centralizing on the role of mothers in teaching linguistic skills to their children, we focus on a short conversation about the stages of speaking and their timings. A child does not easily learn how to talk, but must goes through a long and complex process in order to do so. Most studies on this subject show that a child vocalizes his/her first words between the first 12 to 14 months of life, until which time he/she needs to use other methods in order express needs and wants.
A child uses three methods of communication before his/her first birthday. These methods include crying and screaming, expression of unclear sounds and signs (the most important of them is the second method, since it turns into meaningful sounds as well as actual words).
1. Crying and screaming:
During the first days of life, most sounds made by an infant are in the form of crying and screaming. During the first week, crying appears in irregular formats, while, with no prior indication, it stops with either the giving of a mother’s attention or naturally on its own.
2. Unclear sounds:
Other unclear sounds can also be observed during the first few months after birth other than crying, which are commonly not learned and can be observed in all nations and cultures, even in the case of children who are deaf. The infant usually makes these sounds when alone and not entertained by grownups. Hearing these sounds is pleasant for the infant himself and produces either smiles or frowns. Deaf infants also make such sounds just like the healthy ones, but stop making them after a while because they are unable to hear their own sound.
In the beginning, an infant will use sounds along with signs in trying to communicate with others. Later, he/she will realize that it is possible to communicate intentions solely by sign. While many children naturally get ready to speak between 12 and 18 months, some emotional issues may arise if the process gets delayed, since an infant cannot express emotions and demands. As well, training language between one to three years of age is really important because mimicking adults takes place during this stage. Since the mother spends more time with an infant than other people, her role in teaching language to her child should not be undermined.
Some important points that mothers must pay attention to when it comes to teaching language:
1- The use of words must go from easy to hard, while one syllable words need to be taught before multisyllabic words.
2- Talk to an infant using simple and comprehensible language and not scientific language.
3- Use words that are useful for a child.
4- Phrases must not be expressed too fast because transfer to the mind of an infant already faces some challenges.
5- Do not use long expressions.
6- If an error is made during dialogue, make sure to be gentle and avoid punishment and ridicule.
7- Never pronounce a word wrongly on the count of an infant liking it.
8- Pronunciation practice must start when an infant can distinguish between sounds of alphabet.
9- In teaching a word, use the correct form and not an alternative option. For example, use dog for dog and not the world doggy.
Some methods mothers can use in teaching language:
1- Playing with alphabet and making their sounds using games or stories.
2- Teaching poetry and simple songs that directly transfer frameworks of phrasing.
3- An infant or a child needs to be motivated and must never be made to feel underappreciated.
4- Avoid aggressive criticism, punishment and ridicule in the face of mistakes made in expression and pronunciation.
5- Create motivation for a child to use words by ignoring other forms of early communication including crying, screaming or pointing.
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