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LANGUAGE – Is my child on par with their age group and peers?

From your child’s first words to complete sentences, your child’s language skills will advance significantly in their first few years of life.

As parents, we keenly study how they play, learn, speak, act, and move compared to their siblings and peers.

Although milestones are medically set, they are approximate, and parents must not lose focus of the fact that each child is unique and that some children develop slower than others.

When, however, a child does develop slower in any area, e.g., physical, emotional, social or communication, there is a developmental delay.

This delay could be short term or long term, and parents can often help narrow this gap by either seeking the correct medical assistance or actively participating in exercises to help their child narrow the gap.

Language delays have been identified as one of the most common delays in children.

Communication is a life skill, and poor communication skills often lead to frequent misunderstandings and frustrations. Just spend time in the presence of a 2-year-old toddler!

Is this normal, and how much should a parent understand their child’s babbling?

When a child is unable to express what they want or need, frustration can show itself in behavioural problems.

Research has shown that an easy yardstick to ascertain this skill is for parents to understand at least:

• By hearing vowel and consonant babbling by 8 or 9 months,

and it continues as your baby starts to form words around 12 months.

• By 1, your child isn’t saying many words. They’re babbling a lot and attempting to imitate the sounds of others.

• By 2, you should understand 50% of what they say, and they should be understood and

repeating words they hear from you.

• At 3, you should understand 75% of what they are saying and talks in sentences between three and six words. • By 4, you should understand 100% of what your child is saying as they speak clearly and in more complex sentences, and strangers should also know what they are saying.

How can you help your child?

• Start reading age-appropriate books to your child from the age of 6 months.

• Narrate what you do throughout your day with your child, as this is a key way to boost their vocabulary by listening to you at home.

• Point out objects, name them, encourage lateral thought(reasoning skills) and reinforce their speech and language.

• Point out shapes, colours, letters and explore the different letters and words with them.

• NEVER use baby talk but use good pronunciation and language.

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