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Communication to Foster Childhood Development

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  • 0:04 Fostering Communication
  • 0:50 Learning to Communicate
  • 1:51 Serve & Return
  • 2:47 Receptive & Expressive…
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Communication is an important part of early childhood development. This lesson explains effective uses of communication and details areas it promotes in language development.

Fostering Communication

Imagine a world without any form of communication. Is it even possible? The fact is, we need communication, or ways to let others know what we think, feel, need, and want. Young children instinctively communicate. They cry when they're hungry and smile when they're happy. Eventually, though, they learn to communicate using speech.

Educators know that early language development and communication skills play an important role in skills children will use later in life, like reading and writing. How can they foster effective communication skills that promote children's understanding, foster positive interactions, and encourage the use of expressive language? Let's take a look at what these terms are and how this works.

Learning to Communicate

Babies are totally reliant on adults to meet their needs. Think of an infant who's hungry. She uses her cries to let her parents know she's ready to eat, and her parents respond by providing her with nourishment. Though no words are being spoken, this nonverbal communication is effectively getting the point across in two ways:the baby lets the parents know she's hungry, and the parents let her know they will respond to her needs. This helps build important trusting relationships and is laying the groundwork for communication skills she'll need later on.

Babies learn that turns are taken when communicating. I let you know how I feel, and you respond. They learn to pay attention when another person is interacting with them, and eventually pick up on other nonverbal cues, like facial expressions and tone of voice. They begin a back-and-forth type of nonverbal communication. When a mother walks into the room, the baby may look up from her crib. The mother smiles, and the baby returns the smile. The mother says 'Hello!' and the baby coos. Let's take a closer look at this.

Serve & Return

The serve and return interaction between young children and others, which involves hearing and communicating, is important in language development and the development of communication and literacy skills. Imagine a young child at the grocery store. The child may point to an ear of corn with a quizzical look. The mother responds 'corn,' allowing the child to label the object and build new vocabulary. The mother may add on to learning by allowing the child to feel the bumps in the corn, talking about the color, texture, and taste. All these interactions build important communication and language skills.

Imagine the same scenario, but the mother does not respond. Instead, she continues shopping, ignoring the quizzical looks. Or she may discourage the child from asking or appear frustrated or angry. This interaction sends a different message, one that does not allow the child to develop trusting relationships or increase vocabulary.

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