Language Skills

As children grow, they notice and recognise sounds in the world around them and begin to associate them in meaningful contexts. By being exposed to speech and language, they too will learn to talk.


Speech, Language and Communication Skills – Making sounds and talking

The development of speech and language skills refer to the ability to communicate with one another. 

The first five years of a child’s life provides a critical period for developing speech and language as it is thought this is a key time for brain development to absorb language. 

Children begin to acquire speech, language and communication skills whilst in the womb as they listen to sounds in the world around them and as such children are born being able to recognise familiar sounds such as their mother’s voice. 

As babies begin life without the ability to speak, they will communicate through crying as a way to have their needs met.

As children grow, they notice and recognise sounds in the world around them and begin to associate them in meaningful contexts. By being exposed to speech and language, they too will learn to talk. 

Therefore, talking to your child, giving them time to watch, listen, imitate, explore and respond provides the perfect situation to learn and develop these essential skills.

All You Need to Know About Language Development in Children

There are many aspects involved in the development of speech and language in small children. This skill begins developing very early in a child’s life, as they begin to listen and react to sounds from a very young age.

As with all aspects of development in babies and children, everyone will grow and learn at their own pace. Each child is an individual and everyone will hit different milestones at different times. Some children may also be motivated by different ways of developing these skills – some may respond well to sharing stories, whereas others will not show as much interest and will enjoy taking part in music and dance activities more. 

Keeping this in mind, here is an overview of the stages of language development in children from birth to five.


Speech and Language Development in Newborns

From birth, your baby will be mainly communicating through crying. They will also watch your face with their gaze at times. Also, during this developmental stage, they will begin to communicate through gurgles and other imitated sounds.

Speech and Language Development in Babies

At this stage, your baby will begin to show that they are listening more to the sounds that adults make; they will show this by looking at adults while they talk and following them with their gaze more. This is also a stage in development where babies will begin to babble at themselves, other babies, adults and toys.

They may also begin to use inflections during babble to imitate conversation that they have heard in day to day life, and also in songs that have been sung to them. This will prepare them for using inflections in speech at a later stage, when putting words together, and can be encouraged through conversation with your baby, and singing simple action songs together such as “this little piggy”. 

As babies grow and develop, they may begin to say simple, familiar words such as “no”, “mama” and “dada”.

Speech and Language Development in Toddlers

During this development stage, many changes happen within children’s speech and language skills. Your child will acquire new language at their own pace, with them adding multiple single words to their repertoire at this time. They may also begin to put words together at this time, to make phrases. These phrases are likely to be able to enable your toddler to make requests, such as “mummy juice” or “crisps please”.

At this stage, it is common for children to combine familiar words with action, such as waving whilst saying “bye bye”, or rubbing their tummy and saying “yummy” when enjoying food. Toddlers will also begin to name familiar people and will develop an understanding of possessive pronouns, for example they will point to their belongings, or items that they want and say “mine”.

Speech and Language Development in Children

In childhood, bigger steps are often taken in terms of speech and language development. This is often the stage in which your child will begin to understand and follow multiple-step instructions, such as “put your coat on and then get your lunchbox”. Also during this time, your child will begin to show an increased interest in favourite stories and will start to recall and retell tales that are familiar and that they enjoy. They may also incorporate stories into their play and retell them using props, puppets, or even act them out themselves, experimenting with intonation and tone of voice.

Around this time, your child’s speech will become more understandable to others, as their pronunciation becomes clearer and they begin to put words together to build sentences and actively participate in conversations. They will also be able to use and understand the language around questions with growing fluency, using “what”, “where”, “who” and “why”. 

Also, during this development stage, your child may begin to find more humour in talk and will retell jokes that they find funny. Sometimes, your child might even want to make their own jokes using formats that they have grown familiar with and may experiment with word play as they develop more understanding of similar concepts.


Streams of Development

At My First Five Years, we have divided your child’s unique learning journey into 6 streams of development focusing holistically on physical, emotional and cognitive development.

  • Gross Motor Skills – Bodies, arms and legs
  • Fine Motor Skills – Hands and fingers
  • Cognitive Skills – Thinking and processing
  • Language, Speech and Communication Skills – Making sounds and talking
  • Social and Emotional Skills – Understanding feelings
  • Sensory Development – Senses (vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, proprioception, interoception)

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