Children's Communication Skills: From Birth to Five Years

Children's Communication Skills: From Birth to Five Years

Children's Communication Skills: From Birth to Five Years

Children's Communication Skills: From Birth to Five Years

Synopsis

This text studies the development of children's communication skills from birth to the age of five. The range of skills focused on includes listening, understanding and use of language, speech and non-verbal communication.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to increase awareness in professionals working with babies and young children of what constitutes human communication and what communication skills to expect from birth to 5 years of age. Greater knowledge in these areas should lead to greater confidence among professionals in identifying those children having problems in developing their speech, language and communication. There is much evidence to support early intervention for babies and very young children with communication difficulties. Importantly, professionals need to know that they do not have to wait for a child to start talking before discussing their communication skills development with parents.

Essentially, all children are thought to have an innate predisposition to develop nonverbal and verbal communication skills. It is helpful to consider communication by asking the following two questions: what is it and how is it used? Answers to the first question include smiling, eye contact, gesture and language. Answers to the second question include expressing pleasure, signalling to other speakers that one has finished speaking, drawing another person’s attention to an interesting toy and telling stories. The ‘what’ of communication emerges in all children but it is the socio-cultural and linguistic environment that plays a significant part in determining ‘how’ children use these skills. Cultures differ in this respect. There are differences between cultures regarding what is considered appropriate use of eye gaze between adults and children, regarding how smiling is used and which gestures are deemed appropriate. Within cultures, the context of the interaction determines how communication skills are used, as what is considered appropriate depends on the context. There are rules within cultures that determine what is and is not appropriate in terms of use of communication. Children learn these rules implicitly over the course of their development.

This book describes the ‘what’ of communication skills development in babies and children. Babbling, smiling, pointing, vocalizing, using words one at a time, combining words, understanding situations and understanding words are all communication skills and are universal. The rate of emergence of many of these skills occurs universally among children with normal communication skills development (Bates et al. in press). All babies babble around the same time, but the . . .

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