Time to Talk

What You Need to Know About Your Child's Speech and Language Development

 Time to Talk

Authors: Michelle MacRoy-Higgins, Carlyn Kolker
Pub Date: March 2017
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814437292
Page Count: 256
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814437308

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Excerpt

Introduction

In the book you’re now holding in your hands, we’re going to look closely at how your child learns to talk. The process is sometimes magical, sometimes tedious, sometimes frustrating, sometimes hilarious, sometimes easy, and sometimes difficult.

Our goal in Time to Talk is simple: to demystify how your child learns to communicate with the world around him or her. Your child’s speech and language development begin the moment she is born and yelps her first cry, and unfolds throughout her childhood. Talking is the starting point for conveying ideas, expressing needs and wants, interacting with others, and even learning to read.

The more you understand how your child begins to communicate, the more you can be there for him. When it comes to childhood development, knowledge is not just power but also empowerment: If you know how your child learns to talk, then you can help him talk more. You can help him listen better. You can help him improve his interactions with peers and teachers, friends and family. Eventually, you can help him progress from mastering the spoken word to conquering the written word. And you can be on the lookout for signs of challenges and difficulties, know when to seek help, and, if help is necessary, understand what therapy your child may need and how to get it for him.

The Organization and Contents of This Book

Speech and language development require lots of tools. These tools are physical, cognitive, social, and emotional. Some of them are innate, such as moving your mouth, and others are learned, such as grasping the meaning of a new vocabulary word. In this book, we explain how your child acquires each of these tools to create the complete set she needs.

We have organized our book to, first, familiarize you with these tools of communication: hearing, speech, language, fluency, and literacy. Then, we take a deeper look at questions you may have about how your child acquires his talking tool set. The first five chapters are dedicated to providing a practical, insightful look at the essential components of listening, speaking, and reading. The sixth chapter follows up by explaining how these components come into play for children exposed to multiple languages. And finally, the last two chapters address particular concerns you may have regarding your child’s speech and language development. Here, we discuss specific challenges and impairments that some children face, and we review the numerous options available to seek help for your child.

Let’s get started by touching on each chapter in a little more detail. In the book’s first chapter, we focus on hearing, because good hearing lays the fundamental groundwork for spoken language. This discussion covers everything from how hearing development happens, to the anatomy and physiology of the ear, to types of hearing loss, and more.

In the second chapter, we move on to address the critical subject of speech development, the process that begins with your baby’s first cries and continues as your toddler babbles and your child learns to say new sounds and words. Here we look at what speech development means, how and when children acquire new sounds, and when children typically begin to achieve clarity in their speech.

In our third chapter, we explore language development. We explain the common rules and conventions of language, discuss how children pick up new words, look at when they begin to use words to express their needs and wants, and describe how young children are simultaneously able understand and utter language. We also investigate why some children begin to talk a little bit later than others.

In the book’s fourth chapter, we cover the concept of fluency, the ability to talk easily and smoothly. Because fluency is an important aspect of communicating with others, we look at why how some kids master this seemingly without effort, while others sometimes need extra time and help.

In our 5th chapter, we explain how early literacy unfolds, because oral language and written language are so closely intertwined. We explore the first steps that children take in beginning to recognize letters and the sounds they make, discuss how to build critical early literacy skills from the youngest age, and give you some great suggestions about how to introduce a love of reading to your child.

In the sixth chapter, we focus on how some young children are able to acquire not just one language, but multiple languages – all when they’re still in diapers! We distinguish among the different forms of and approaches to bilingualism, and offer some advice as to how to raise your child bilingually either at home, at school, or both.

In the book’s last two chapters, we turn to addressing special concerns that may arise for you and your children when your kids learn to talk. In Chapter 7, we discuss particular communication disorders and difficulties that can affect your child’s ability to talk or listen, and others that may make it harder for her to excel in a school setting. We also give you some of the defining characteristics for these challenges and disorders so you can help spot them.

We know that all this information can lead to lots of questions about how to get help for your child if you think she needs it, so in Chapter 8 we focus on the complex systems of help that you may navigate if your child needs some extra assistance in her mastery of talking. We look at some of the different kinds of professionals you might want to visit, the different systems that are available to you – both public and private – to receive therapy, and explain an array of therapy options available to your child. Because these systems can sometimes be hard to pursue, our goal is to make it easy for you to find help for your child.

In the first six chapters of this book, we explain how and when typically developing children acquire different skills and abilities, and then we provide you with actionable advice about how to help your child grow, spot difficulties and challenges, and seek experts when necessary. This advice includes special sections entitled “Red Flags: What to Look Out For and When,” which are tips on any cause for concern; “Common Questions, Expert Answers,” or questions that parents frequently ask about each topic, with easy-to-read responses; and “Some Simple Things to Do at Home,” advice about how to nurture your child’s communication skills. Additionally, each chapter ends with a “Resources” section that provides you with extra online information to consult.

Throughout the book, we also include features like “Parenting Tip,” with suggestions as to how you can help your child at home; “From Research to Real Life,” plain-English summaries of relevant scientific research; and “A Parent’s Perspective,” which introduces you to parents who have faced challenges and overcome them. While these features can be found throughout the book, you’ll also find a number of other features that offer information that is both helpful and informative.

We are parents too. We know what it is like to try to “research” your child’s development. There are the stealth observations of other people’s children on the playground, not to mention the late-night Google sessions. But those aren’t sound scientific ways to learn about how your child is growing. Our book represents a different choice: one grounded in academic research, but written for everyday parents. There’s no jargon. We define scientific and medical terms so you can understand them. Time to Talk is meant to be your guidebook – not your textbook.

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