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Communication, language and literacy, social and emotional development is one of the six areas of learning that parents and early years educators need to cater to during the vital first years of life. Communication skills are a fundamental aspect of life and govern the formation of relationships. Learning depends on communication skills, not just speech, but gestures, signing, facial expressions and body movements.
New babies develop rudimentary communication skills with the people around them, parents and grandparents, caregivers and siblings. In the first weeks of life it’s important to communicate with baby as much as possible. Baby may not understand the words but is familiar with the sound of your voice and the more you talk, the more baby will listen. Use lots of eye contact and hand movements and this will help with baby’s eye development.
There’s no need to feel silly, you can talk to your baby all day long about the things you do, the places you go, no matter how mundane – this is how baby begins to make sense of his/her environment. Make funny noises and sing rhymes and songs, especially repetitive ones with hand movements – you’ll soon have baby smiling and then chuckling away. Smiling and laughter are more forms of communication and singing and silly noises and fits of giggles are a great way of enabling baby to join in from a very early age.
Help baby develop a love for books by reading to him/her from a very early age (see this recent blog post – it’s never too young to start!). Set aside a quiet time each day for reading – perhaps after bath and before bed, a great way of winding down. Explore all sorts of books – when baby is too young for stories, just talk about the pictures in the books. Use different types of books – board books, textured books and sound books to encourage baby to get involved and join in.
Encourage baby’s drawing (pre-writing) skills by offering a range of mark making tools, water, paint and crayons are great ways to let chubby little fingers develop some fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.
Helping your baby with communication skills of all kinds will pay dividends in the future as your child grows into a confident and communicative young adult.