Language and communication skills enable children to have meaningful interactions with others. They also form a foundation for learning in other areas, such as academic and social skills. Development of language and communication skills begins long before children say their first word. From the minute infants are born, they begin to communicate by crying, cooing, babbling, and using gestures to get their needs met. They also begin to learn a great deal about the language(s) spoken at home by listening to their caregivers’ tone of voice, range of speech sounds, and rhythmic speech patterns. Children exposed to more than one language will learn to differentiate and use them, and current research suggests that bilingual language learning is good for the brain! Taking time to talk with children about their daily routines, objects in their environments, new experiences, feelings and ideas, as well as sharing books with children, are all important ways that families can support language development.
The activities in this section provide ways for families to help children listen and understand what they hear (receptive language skills) and communicate their ideas and experiences (expressive language skills). It is important to have lots of daily conversations with children (even before they can talk) and to be playful with language to make it fun.