Friday, July 10, 2009

From Walking to Talking: How to Encourage Development

As a member of Team Mom, I was offered the opportunity to have an expert answer my childhood development questions in the form of a guest blog post. I asked about encouraging walking and talking in my sons, especially my oldest who needs a little extra help.

From Walking to Talking: How to Encourage Development
Guest Post By Sue Adair, Director of Education at Goddard Systems, Inc.

Development is not a race; it is a process that unfolds uniquely in each child. Rushing development erodes children’s belief in, and enjoyment of, their own emerging abilities, replacing delight with frustration and discouragement.

Loving, responsive care-giving that includes play provides infants and toddlers the ideal setting for their own exploration of the environment – the royal road to learning.

From walking to talking, here are a few things you can do to keep your child stimulated in a healthy way.

To encourage walking and physical development:
Take walks around your yard or through the neighborhood together or hold hands and climb up and down the stairs together.

Make an obstacle course of pillows or boxes and encourage your child to walk, climb and crawl through it. Buy a few balls for kicking and throwing.

To encourage language and speech development:
Spend a lot of time communicating with your child — talk, sing and encourage imitation of sounds and gestures.

Read to your child. Look for age-appropriate books. Encourage your child to point to recognizable pictures and try to name them. Then move on to nursery rhymes, which have rhythmic appeal. Progress to predictable books, such as Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, in which your child can anticipate what happens. Your little one may even start to memorize favorite stories.

Use everyday situations to reinforce your child's speech and language. Talk your way through the day. For example, name foods at the grocery store, explain what you're doing as you prepare a meal or wash the dishes, point out objects and sounds heard around the house. Ask questions and acknowledge your child's responses (even when they're hard to understand). It is important to speak to your child as you would speak to any person: avoid “baby talk.”

Use pictures, books, objects, or ongoing events to stimulate language development. Model correct pronunciation and use repetition to build speech and language skills.

About Sue Adair:
Sue Adair is Director of Education for Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the franchisor of Goddard Schools. As an expert in early childhood development and learning, Sue oversees teacher training and early childhood education programs for 330+ Goddard Schools across the United States. In her 21-year career in early childhood education, Sue has taught multiple age groups ranging from infants to Kindergarten in both private and corporate child care settings, and has seven years experience as a school director including several years at The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development in Blue Bell, Penn. You can visit Sue’s blog at: