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Speech and Language

Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. Tools that help us and children communicate with each other are Voice, Speech, and Language. Voice is the sound or sounds uttered through the mouth of living creatures, especially human beings like speaking, shouting, singing. Speech the expression of or the ability to express thoughts and feelings by articulating sounds. It involves the precisely coordinated muscle actions of the tongue, lips, jaw, and vocal tract to produce the recognisable sounds that make up language. Language is a set of shared rules that allow people to express their ideas in a meaningful way. Language may be expressed verbally or by writing, signing, or making other gestures, such as eye blinking or mouth movements.

Development of speech and language at JINS
The first 3 years of a child’s life, are key to the development of speech, language and cognitive skills. When the brain is developing and maturing during infancy, it is the most critical period for acquiring speech and language skills. These skills also develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others. For this reason it JINS aims to create an environment that gives children all the stimulation, positive role modelling and human contact that they need. If these critical periods are allowed to pass without exposure to language, it will be more difficult to learn and master the language skill for a child. Hence at JINS we strictly believe that Voice, Speech, Language and Communication skills enable children to reach their full potential.

UntitledFor a normally developing child, learning is easy and creating opportunities for learning is also not difficult. Through play, simple daily interactions and experiences, we at JINS help the child acquire new language and skills. Staff are trained to be able to provide a child with a positive start in life. There are a few simple building blocks that we put in place to help your child grow, and as a parent, you just need to provide the time to interact with your children. By playing and allowing your child time and space to explore and interact in their own way, we allow your child to develop and learn in a fun and safe environment.

Being an Early Years practitioners for years, supporting children, and identifying when they might be having difficulty is a skill I have learnt through years of exposure to the children’s communication ability. 1 in 10 children have speech, language and communication needs, we at JINS believe that it’s important all our staff and parents understand how to better support the children. Speech and language skills do not just evolve on their own. They are part of a bigger picture involving social interaction, play, observation, manipulating objects, listening and attending. All these factors are working together and often, without one, it is difficult to develop another.

Milestones for speech and language development?
The first signs of communication occur when an infant learns that a cry will bring food, comfort, and companionship. New-borns also begin to recognise important sounds in their environment, such as the voice of their mother or primary caretaker. As they grow, babies in Little Learners begin to sort out the speech sounds that compose the words of their language. By 6 months of age, most babies recognise the basic sounds of their native language.
Children vary in their development of speech and language skills. However, they follow a natural progression or timetable for mastering the skills of language.

UntitledA checklist of milestones for the normal development of speech and language skills in children used at JINS from birth to 3 years of age is included below. These milestones help the staff, determine if a child is on track or if he or she may need extra help. Sometimes a delay may be caused by hearing loss, while other times it may be due to a speech or language disorder.

This checklist is based upon How Does Your Child Hear and Talk? Courtesy of the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association.

Hearing and Communication development checklist
Language and Speech Milestone YesNo
Birth to 1 year (Little Learners)  
Reacts to loud sounds  
Calms down or smiles when spoken to  
Recognises your voice and calms down if crying  
When feeding, starts or stops sucking in response to sound  
Coos and makes pleasure sounds  
Has a special way of crying for different needs  
Smiles when he or she sees you  
Follows sounds with his or her eyes  
Responds to changes in the tone of your voice  
Notices toys that make sounds  
Pays attention to music  
Babbles in a speech-like way and uses many different sounds, including sounds that begin with p, b, and m  
Laughs  
Babbles when excited or unhappy  
Makes gurgling sounds when alone or playing with you  
Enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake  
Turns and looks in the direction of sounds  
Listens when spoken to  
Understands words for common items such as “cup,” “shoe,” or “juice”  
Responds to requests (“Come here”)  
Babbles using long and short groups of sounds (“tata, upup, bibibi”)  
Babbles to get and keep attention  
Communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms  
Imitates different speech sounds  
1 to 2 years (Curious Beginners)  
Has one or two words (“Hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”) by first birthday  
Knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked  
Follows simple commands (“Roll the ball”) and understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”)  
Enjoys simple stories, songs, and rhymes  
Points to pictures, when named, in books  
Acquires new words on a regular basis  
Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”  
Puts two words together (“More cookie”)  
Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words  
Has a word for almost everything  
2 to 3 years (Inquisitive Adventurers and Confident Explorers)  
Uses two- or three-word phrases to talk about and ask for things  
Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds  
Speaks in a way that is understood by family members and friends  
Names objects to ask for them or to direct attention to them  
Hears you when you call from another room  
Hears the television or radio at the same sound level as other family members  
Answers simple “Who?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” questions  
Talks about activities at Nursery or friends’ homes  
3+ years (Active Discoverers)  
Uses sentences with four or more words  
Speaks easily without having to repeat syllables or words  
Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it  
Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school  
Uses sentences that give many details  
Tells stories that stay on topic  
Communicates easily with other children and adults  
Says most sounds correctly except for a few (l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, and th)  
Uses rhyming words  
Names some letters and numbers  
Uses adult grammar  

If as a parent you have answered no to more than one question in any of the age group. It may be the sign of speech, language, and hearing Disorders. Some of the common question our staff further ask themselves in their practise or you as parent should ask are:
1. Are you worried he /she child doesn’t seem to listen?
2. Has not started to say any words?
3. Cries a lot or have tantrums?
4. Doesn’t talk at all?
5. Doesn’t respond when his/her name is called?
6. Turns the pages of a book, but doesn’t pay any attention when read to?
7. Shows what he/she wants, but doesn’t use words?
8. Doesn’t do what is asked?
9. Gets upset when not understood?
10. Does he just need more time to catch up?

If the answer again is yes to the above question the child may have early signs of a speech, language, or hearing disorder. We at JINS don’t wait and hope your child will outgrow a communication problem. Early detection leads to early treatment. We flag our concerns with you showing the evidence… running records. The earlier you get help for your child, the better. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists can help the infants or toddler who has a language, speech, or hearing disorder.

If a child’s speech or language appears to be delayed, what do we do at JINS?

At JINS we ask you talk to your child’s doctor if we have any concerns. Your doctor may refer you to a speech-language pathologist, who is a health professional trained to evaluate and treat people with speech or language disorders. The speech-language pathologist will talk to you about your child’s communication and general development. He or she will also use special spoken tests to evaluate your child. A hearing test is often included in the evaluation because a hearing problem can affect speech and language development. Depending on the result of the evaluation, the speech-language pathologist may suggest activities you can do at home to stimulate your child’s development. We often ask you to share these with the teacher and we work together with your child and our SENCO further develops IPP (Individual Play Plans) and IEP (Individual Education plan). Sometimes further evaluation by an audiologist (a health care professional trained to identify and measure hearing loss), or a developmental psychologist (a health care professional with special expertise in the psychological development of infants and children) may be also consulted.

How do we at JINS encourage speech and how children learn speech?

We encourage speech development, especially if your child is a little late with producing their first words, there are lots of activities that we can do to develop your child’s speech and help them produce more words.
UntitledFirst of all – WE TAKE THE DUMMY OR PACIFIER OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS!!!
During a baby’s early months a dummy can be useful to comfort. Most babies have a very strong sucking reflex and therefore a dummy can help to settle a crying baby. However, dummies can stop the full range of tongue movements that are needed for some speech sounds: this can have long term effects. Dummies can prevent or limit the opportunities that a child has to use sounds and communicate. Dentists also report that sucking a dummy a lot can make teeth crowd together or lead to a gap between the top and bottom teeth, this may cause a lisp. A child may tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose. This may lead to long-term dribbling.

UntitledWhat we do at JINS to reduce the use of a dummy?
• We try to use a dummy for short periods of time only to settle a child
• We don’t automatically give a child a dummy – wait until they ask or indicate that they want it
• We keep dummies for sleep times only
• We gradually reduce the use of a dummy: it is much easier to break the habit before the age of 12 months than after 12 months.
• We encourage the child to throw a dummy away in the bin

Activities we use for developing and improving your child’s speech and language skills at JINS.
These are many simple activities that you can also do with your child to develop their speech and language skills.
1. Be a good model: An important aspect of learning speech is listening. A child learns new sounds and words by listening to those around. This is why it is important to provide good speech for your child to listen to. Say words clearly and slowly and use plenty of intonation. If a child says a word or sentence incorrectly, rather than correct them or ask them to repeat it, we just say the word / sentence back to them correctly to show that we have understood. This way the child always hears the correct version
2. Listening and attention skills: These are the building blocks of speech and language development. The acquisition of these skills is vital in the early years if you want your child to be successful at school. The development of these skills is facilitated by interaction with others, with having a shared focus, and playing in an environment that is free of distractions. Listening, is not the same as hearing. A child can have perfect hearing, but be a very poor listener. Children that have had a lack of social interaction or poor role modelling in the early years of their lives may present with listening and attention difficulties. Studies are also showing that over exposure to television from a young age can have detrimental long term effects on listening and attention skills. Some children find these skills more difficult to master than others. We try to find activities that children enjoy and focus on together. Also, we praise good listening and good looking.
Untitled3. Remember your language level: One of the biggest things to be aware of when using language around young children is the level of language we use. This means using words and sentences that the child can understand and avoiding complicated words, long sentences and difficult instructions. We at JINS just use key words, and a small sentences emphasising the important words. We talk slowly and point to what we are talking about.
Untitled4. Use Symbolic sounds: These are easy words and sounds to introduce to the young children when they are just starting to attempt some words, or when recognisable words seem a bit late in their development. They encourage vocalisation, imitation, and early vocabulary building. Symbolic sounds often sound like, or refer to a sound that is related to the word e.g. “moo” for a cow, or “beep beep” for a car. These are fun sounds that we can incorporate when playing games or looking at books.
Untitled5. Motivating sound games: We make time to sit down with your child – even if it is just for a few minutes a day (although the more one-to-one time the better), we spend some quiet time with your child, away from distractions. Look at a book together and talk about the pictures. Sometimes, using games can motivate your child to make sounds. For instance play the game – ready… steady…. GO!! Blow up a balloon, hold it, then say “ready….steady….GO”, and let the balloon go. Do this a few times and then pause after you say “ready…steady….” and see if your child steps in and says “GO”.
6. Communication temptations: We often by tempting your child with something motivating help elicit some speech or a vocalisation. For instance, holding onto the lunch box, but not opening it until he/she vocalises a request. In the early stages the child does not have to use the correct words or sentences, but just vocalise or make an approximation of the word. We want the child to learn that he/she can use his/her voice as a tool to initiate and request.
Untitled7. Simple Games: There are lots of simple games we play and indirectly work on speech and language. Games can also be played while driving in the car to/from Nursery, or when you are at the park or in the supermarket. Learning language does not have to be done in a structured environment. Don’t forget when you are playing games to focus on speech and language, you will also be working on social skills, turn-taking, observing, listening and attention, so it’s a win win situation.
Untitled8. Observe and comment: When we are playing with your child, we take a step back, and do not feel that we have to fill the silences, we just comment on the things the child is doing so they can hear (and learn) the new vocabulary.These skills require the child to stop and focus on a particular task.
9. Let your child lead: We let the children lead the play, let them be the boss of play. This can build self-confidence and does not put pressure on them to talk and respond to the adult all the time.
Untitled10. Books, books and books: Books can be used in many ways to develop language and early literacy skills. We use books and the pictures in different ways to focus on language. We look at the books together, name the pictures, ask questions, and talk about the story. We use story sacks and felt stories to make the story alive.
11. Sing songs and Nursery rhymes: We at JINS have specialist who focus on songs and rhymes that contain rhythm. This further helps with speech and literacy development.
Untitled12. Feed language in, don’t force it out: We comment and expand on your child’s words and sentences, rather than asking them to repeat words. If the child says “car”, we respond with “big car” or “yellow car” or “fast car”. This is how children learn words, by hearing new vocabulary and linking it to the items or events they are focussing on
13. Toys are fun and great for involving the child: Even with the simplest toys we create fun activities and provide lots of situations for learning and developing speech and language. Imagine building a tower with wooden blocks – a simple game, but with loads of opportunities
Speech and Language opportunities: adjectives (higher, up), verbs (fall down, build), preposition (on-top), nouns (colours, numbers)
Communication and Social skills: turn taking, joint focus, sharing, listening, attending, observing
Untitled14. Role play: Dressing up is great fun and playing different roles will expands the children’s imagination. We play games involving different characters that allows us to introduce lots of new related language and stretch the child’s creative play skills. For instance, if you pretended to be firemen putting out a fire, think how many related words you could use” fire, fireman, fire engine, ladder, water, hose, burning, building, driving, climbing, up, down, smoke, hat, boots, jackets, save, squirt, bucket, fire out, hero, etc. etc. etc. Role play is great for expanding your child’s imagination and introducing new vocabulary.
Untitled15. Music: At JINS we use music as a great way to involve children and also use it in many ways to enhance speech and language. Music is good for getting the children to listen, and experience a shared focus. You can read books and follow music singing the songs as you point to the pictures. Songs also focus on intonation and stress and have a beat to them which helps with aspects of speech development. Music can be used to enhance language and some songs can be sung involving actions and thus creating the link between words and actions. (Head shoulders, knees and toes)

Untitled16. Water play time: We use lots of vocabulary during water play time. We talk to children, and model the words for them. Introduce vocabulary: Verbs: wash, scrub, rinse, clean, brush, dry, splash, sink, float and pour. Nouns: water, tap, flannel, bath, sink, body parts, soup, towel. We sing songs …Rain Rain go away…

Make every opportunity a language learning activity. If it’s a trip to the shops, or bath-time, you can make every activity a language learning activity. Point to things, name them, sing a nursery rhyme, or ask a question. You don’t have to set aside a specific time of day to learn language, every activity is a language learning activity. Talk about what the people on the street are doing (e.g. walking, working, riding etc.). Play “I-spy” to practice initial sound awareness (good for speech and language development).
UntitledIn nutshell get down to a child’s level when communicating with them. This makes it easier for them to listen. Say the child’s name first, in order to secure their attention, then talk to them or give them an instruction. Use key words only when talking to a child or when giving an instruction. This will help him/her understand better. Use objects, photos, symbols etc. (depending on the child’s level) in order to help them understand more effectively. Allow the child to work in a quiet area away from lots of activity. Children cannot concentrate in busy areas where there are lots of distractions. Children learn by seeing and doing and therefore learn best when actual hands-on activities are used to facilitate learning.

Samina Khanyari
General Manager
Jumeirah International Nurseries