How many words does your child need to hear in the early years? Research tells us that children who hear at least 40 million words or more in the first four years of life develop early conversational skills, learn to read on time, do better in school, and have more communication opportunities in the future. Read how you can help your child with hearing loss meet the 40 million word goal!
Your child’s brain is one of the most powerful processors of information on the planet. Science shows that the first three years represent the most important window for brain growth and development. Your child’s brain is wired and ready to listen and learn language from you during the interactions and conversations you have with them every single day. Every word, phrase, song, and story you share with them becomes a permanent part of their brain’s ever growing network structure.
Your child needs to hear all the language occurring around them. Today’s hearing technology makes it possible for their brain to have excellent access to all of the sounds of speech and language. Here are the most important steps to providing full access:
Hearing 40 million words by age four may seem like a lot of words. The good news is that you already have all of the skills to help your child reach this goal! You’ll easily reach your 40 million word goal by talking, reaching, and singing together every day. Your child’s brain actually seeks and recognizes patterns in speech, songs, phrases, and sentences. Every time you talk with them, you’re continuing to expand their existing and rapidly growing brain networks. Every word said is a seed with the potential to develop roots, branches, leaves, and flowers.
Reduce noise makers around the house like the radio, TV, and loud appliances.
The LSL strategies and techniques you learn in intervention will help your child learn spoken language. Make sure to use them in your everyday routines.
Single words are not enough. When you talk to your child using phrases and sentences, you’re not only providing more meaning, you’re using a natural conversational style that helps their brain map sentence structure and word order.
Sing a song your family has always enjoyed, or try making up your own songs, using words in a singsong way.
Set a goal to read aloud to your child for 15 minutes every day. You can read to them while they eat breakfast, before bedtime, in a doctor’s waiting room, or while in the car or on the bus.
Simply by describing and talking about the five senses pertaining to objects, you can explore a multitude of language opportunities!
A leaf can spark language about stems, tree branches, bark, roots, and soil! Think through all the endless connections and details from the objects in your day-to-day routine.
Your child learns much of their language by overhearing conversations around them. Make sure they have plenty of opportunities, in close range, to hear you talking with other people.
Talk to your audiologist about remote microphone technology that connects your — or their teacher’s, caregiver’s, or coach’s — voice directly to your child’s hearing devices.
Break out your trusty Thesaurus and start exploring all the synonyms for the common words you already use. Big can become large, huge, enormous, gigantic!
Just remember you’re already on your way to the 40 million word goal! Keep the conversation going and your child will be using the very words, songs, phrases, and sentences they hear to reach spoken language success!
For encouragement to meet the 40 million word goal, join the Family Support Community and hear from other families who are growing their child’s brain to listen, talk and read on par with their hearing siblings and friends!
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Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Thousands of parents have been in your shoes. Find other parents who can share from experience, offer encouragement, and help your family reach your LSL goals.
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