Hey Loves! I hope everyone is having a great week. About three months ago, my family and I went up to Boca Raton to have dinner with our good friends. Our friends were babysitting for their niece, who happens to be 2 days older than my daughter, Charlee. To my disbelief, this little girl was speaking in complete sentences. Being a pediatrician, I know that every child develops speech and motor skills at different stages, but it still made my wheels spin. My daughter was just starting to put two words together and, with the exception of her close family, it was hard to understand exactly what she was trying to say. I think as parents we all fall victim to comparing our children to others and questioning whether or not our child is developing motor and language skills appropriately. I always get questions from parents in the ER wondering when and if they should be worried about their child’s developmental milestones, especially when it comes to language development. So Forever Freckled has brought in the best in the field of speech pathology, Jessica Gianos, to help educate us on speech development and when we should and shouldn’t be concerned about our child’s speech and language development. Thank you Jess!
Speech and Language Development In Young Children
What is language development and why is it important?
Language development is the process in which young children develop the ability to understand and use language. Research shows the critical years for language learning are birth (yes birth!) through the first couple years of a child’s life.
Why is this so important?
Well, the obvious answer is we want our young children to understand us and be able to communicate their basic wants and needs. This can lead to decreased frustration for both parents and kiddos alike! Parents also need to know that language will have great significance throughout a child’s academic career.
Let’s think about the academic importance some more. Our children need to understand and follow the simple classroom directions (a.k.a. LANGUAGE!) that are given by a teacher (i.e.: “Get your pencil box and sit in your chair”). Our children must understand the steps (a.k.a. LANGUAGE!) that are given by a teacher in order to learn to read, write, and complete math calculations. And remember those math word problems in school? (Yep! LANGUAGE!). In the classroom language is everywhere!
What is speech? Is speech different from language?
Yes, they are different. Speech development is the process in which young children develop the ability to produce different speech sounds. Speech also refers to one’s ability to speak fluently and use typical voicing.
How many words should my child be using? Should my child be speaking more clearly?
The following link provides a comprehensive chart of speech and language milestones age birth to five from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This chart can be used as a guide for parents to understand typical speech and language development. It also provides excellent tips for eliciting speech and language.
What should I do if I feel my child is not meeting their speech and/or language milestones?
First, try not to stress out (I know is easier said then done)! Remember that speech and language development can vary from child to child.
Second, speak with your pediatrician. They should be able to address your concerns, answer questions, and recommend a referral for an evaluation by a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist as needed.
Remember, if your child is identified with a speech and/or language disorder, early identification and intervention is key!
Jessica Gianos, M.A., CCC-SLP
Jessica Gianos, M.A., CCC-SLP has been working as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in South Florida for nine years. She has worked in a variety of settings including private practices, acute care hospitals, outpatient rehab, and public schools where she has been nominated for Teacher of the Year. Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, a minor in Elementary Education, and a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Florida. When Jessica is not working as a SLP, she is a wife and mother of two children, ages 3 and 4.