This past month I’ve really noticed Jasper’s speech coming along so well! It’s not so much when I say a word and ask him to repeat it but it’s when I least expect it; when I’m talking to someone and he repeats a random word I’ve said and when he’s playing with his toys and names one of them correctly – that’s what makes my heart just melt!
I’m no expert in speech (although I did study a module of linguistics at uni) and Jasper isn’t particularly advanced in speaking, but I do know that there are certain things that have aided in his speech development.
1- Books, books, books
When I went for Jasper’s 12 month check up with the midwife she gave me a book bag with a couple of books and nursery rhymes in. She really reiterated the importance of reading books to children from a young age and said that statistically, it’s been found that children who are exposed to books tend to develop their speech much quicker than those that aren’t.
The boys have a reading corner in their room, two shelves on the wall full of books. Every night before bedtime they choose a story or two and I always try to have dedicated story times throughout the day. I think it’s a great way to wind down and steal a few snuggles too!
The boys also have a book box downstairs with all of theirs toys and I really love how among all of their toys the boys often gravitate towards their books. Their attention spans are getting better and better, almost always seeing books through from start till finish and then starting again from the beginning.
At the moment we have a lot of interactive books, lift the flap ones and touchy feely ones like the “that’s not my …’ series. We do have a few long ones, ‘The tiger who came to tea’ and ‘The gruffalo’ but these are probably the longest that the boys can manage at the moment.
When we read with the boys I don’t just read the stories, I ask them loads of questions and ask them to find different things on the pages. I notice more and more how well equipped books are for this as quite often there’s a particular character that isn’t part of the story, but is always there – kind of like a side story.
I’ll do a separate post on the boys favourite books and what ones I’d recommend as they’re such a huge part of our daily lives!
2- Running commentary
Yes it’s great for kids to have quiet time, time to listen and explore, but I like to fill a lot of our time with talking. For example when we go food shopping, I used to spend the whole time trying to keep him distracted and stop him from climbing out of the trolley. I found myself shh-ing him or giving him my keys to play with but then I realised that was never going to help him reach his full potential.
Now I engage him in everything we’re doing. I point out what’s on the shelves, I tell him we’ve got green apples and a big broccoli. I try to describe things – half the time he looks at me like I’m crazy but often he repeats what I say or says ‘ahh’ as if it’s fascinating to him! I tell him we’re going to the car, we’re next to our black car, we’re putting the bags in the car. Honestly I think that’s been a huge help and I do it with everything, making breakfast, changing his nappy, getting him dressed and running his bath. It’s a great way to keep him busy and interested.
3- Singing songs and nursery rhymes
This is one that I need to work on. My children’s song knowledge is very limited, I know them when I hear them but if I were put on the spot all I tend to think of is “the incy, wincy spider’ and ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’. Jasper loves songs though, he’s always singing ‘twinkle twinkle’ and when I sing to him he’s always mesmerised – either because my singing is terrible or because he’s trying to learn the songs.
I have a few nursery rhyme books, Jasper loves watching music videos on Youtube and whenever we’re in the car or just chilling at home I try to have music in the background. He loves LOVES to dance and is fascinated by watching other people dance so it’s a great way for him to learn words and rhythms without him even knowing.
4 – Interaction outside of home
Jasper goes to nursery two mornings a week and I know this has really helped his speech to develop. Often the lovely ladies will tell me new words that he’s come out with and it’s not that I don’t believe them, but of course when they try to show me he doesn’t ‘perform’, so I’m so amazed when he actually says them to me at home.
So often I’ll be at home and he’ll come up with a new word, like ‘cheese’ when I go to take his picture, and I then find out it’s because he’s learnt it at nursery, it really reassures me that he’s benefiting so much from them.
There are so many benefits to nursery that I won’t go into but being around other adults and children has just been amazing for his speech development. He’s around people that take different approaches to situations, know different songs and have different interests to share with him. Me reading a particular book may bore Jasper but someone else may use just the right voices and bring the whole book to life.
Not only is Jasper saying lots but his understanding is crazy. I’m sure it’s the same for most babies his age and I’m in no way saying my baby is a child genius but of course as his muma, and as it’s the first time he’s learning these things – I’m super proud!
If I show him a lion in a book he’ll roar, if I ask where his head is he points to it, when he sees a star in a book or on tv he’ll sing twinkle twinkle – well the tune anyway. It just astounds me that he can understand so much and now share his understanding with me!
Here’s a few words that he says, I’m sure I’ll have missed some out and I’m sure there are some that he’s said at nursery that I haven’t yet heard but these are the ones he uses daily:
Muma, Dada, Rhys, Granddad, Nana, duck, juice, please, cheese, yes, bot bot (bottle), turtle, tortoise, bye bye, hiya, mwah, head, car, book, … Okay so my mind has gone blank! These are his main ones that he says on a daily basis but he’s said lots more on random occasions.
I can’t believe how much this little guy is growing up. I’ll be writing his 16 month update this week (and possibly 15 month – did I forget to do that one? ) as there’s just so much to tell. He really is a fully fledged toddler and growing far too quickly for my liking!
How do you ensure your doing the most to help your bambino speak?
Thanks for reading!