Develop Language Skills – The Nature Way
By Shara Lawrence-Weiss
The development of language begins from the moment of birth. Some might even argue that it begins while your kiddo is still on the ‘inside.’ You baby can hear talking and tone from inside the womb. Some video clips have shown babies to JUMP when a loud noise is heard or when the mama raises her voice. Music also causes a reaction from a baby, inside the tummy.
It’s a fascinating thing, indeed!
It is always good to keep in mind that your words and tone affect your unborn child. In the same sense, your words and tone affect your child, once born. Even though your baby cannot talk yet, she/he is assessing everything about you. Your child learns to talk based on your communication techniques.
One great way to help your child learn to talk is through question asking. “Oh, look! Daddy is cooking dinner. What do you think he is making? Maybe it’s meatballs. I love meatballs.” Use inflection in your voice, too, so your child can sense the difference between mundane, exciting, anxious, etc.
One of my favorite language building activities is Nature Walks. My four children have all loved nature walks and there are countless benefits to spending time outdoors. Just ask Deborah from Brain Insights! Her flip ring ideas are fantastic (Naturally Developing Young Brains – Supporting Brain Development Through Natural Environments).
Another fun benefit of nature: Mycobacterium vaccae - a bacterica that makes us smarter! (Via ScienceDaily.com)
Here are a few suggestions for nature walking with your baby:
1. As you buckle your child into the stroller (or place your child into the baby carrier on your chest) say, “We’re going on a nature walk. Won’t this be fun? I wonder what we’ll find!”
2. Begin your walk.
3. Take time to stop and point something out. “Look! There’s a tall tree. That tree must be very strong.”
4. Pick up a rock or a caterpillar or a leaf. Show it to your baby. “Look! This leaf is soft.” Or, “Look! This caterpillar is green!” Or, “Look! This rock is hard!” Descriptive words are wonderful. You might not think your child is picking up on this but you’d be surprised. Your child is picking up on everything you say and do. It’s all being processed by the brain, piece by piece.
5. Remove your child from the stroller or carrier when appropriate. Sit in the grass together and feel the grass with your fingers and toes. Talk about the grass.
6. Point out the blue sky or the birds flying or the kids playing in the park. “Some day you’ll be big enough to slide, too!”
7. “Okay, it’s time to walk home now. I had lots of fun with you. I hope you had fun, too.”
Your child, more than anything else, wants your time and attention. Nature walks give both of you a moment of peace, a connection to something bigger and grander, and a perfect opportunity to use descriptive language.
So talk on!
About the Author
Shara Lawrence-Weiss has a background in nanny work, early childhood and education. She has four children of her own (2 boys and 2 girls). Shara works as a Special Education Paraprofessional (K-5th). She is a small business owner and an avid reader. Shara owns numerous sites including MommyPerks.com, Emergent-Literacy.com and EarlyChildhoodNews.net.