Describe How to Communicate with Babies

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In this essay I am going to use examples from my placement to describe the different methods of communicating with infants and young children. It is important for the child care workers to understand how to communicate with babies and children under three in order to be able to interpret their needs and respond to them. Language is made up of four areas which include Phonology, semantics, grammar and pragmatics. In this essay I will give a description on each of these terms and look at the stages of communication with babies under three.

This will include behaviourist and nativist theories, baby signing, communication activities and other alternative methods of communication. Phonology is the understanding and having the ability to pronounce speech sounds. Phonetics is the basis for phonological analysis. This is the production of all human speech sounds regardless of language. Phonology is the basis for further work in morphology, syntax, discourse, and orthography design.

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Analyzes is the sound patterns of a particular language by determining which phonetic sounds are significant and explaining how these sounds are interpreted by the native speaker. Semantics is to have and understanding of the meaning of words and how different words can be used as alternatives. Grammar is when a person can understand the order in which words fall to make grammatical sense. To have knowledge and understanding of the rules of grammar. Pragmatics can be described as the basic rules of communication.

Whilst engaging in conversation, communicating effectively involves turn taking and starting and finishing conversations. A baby from birth to four weeks use a cry to gain attention for basic needs to be tended to, such as needing feed or feeling tired. As a secondary care giver within a day care setting usually become turned to the children’s different cries and can often tell by their cry what they need. At one to three months baby becomes more alert to sounds and voices around them, a familiar carer’s voice can on occasions comfort baby.

From six months up to approximately nine months baby becomes more vocal and begins to make more ‘cooing’ noises and eventually may begin to say ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ as they are near 9 months. It is important for the primary and secondary carers to encourage the child to develop further in their language and offer plenty of praise; this will help build their self-esteem. By one year old, baby becomes alert and familiar with their name and has an understanding of approximately 20 words. The birth to one ear is known as the pre-linguistic stages. At one year and six months, child begins to form familiar words which adults can recognise and understand. Within my work placement for 0-1 year olds, part of my role was to encourage children to extend their vocabulary for example; a child may see a picture of a red ball in a book, they may point and say “ball”. I would then praise them and go to encourage them to identify it as a “red ball”. I would use some repetition to help them learn.

Between eighteen months and twenty four, child begins to join words together, by their second birthday child may have a word vocabulary of up to 200 words. A child of two to three years, begin to use plurals within their expanding vocabulary. From birth it is common for adults to adapt to using a simple language known as ‘motherese’ the adult speaks in a soft tone whilst using lots of facial expressions and eye-contact. It also involves lots of repetition such as; ‘mama, mama’ and ‘dada, dada’.

As a child care practitioner within a baby setting I would often use ‘motherese’ and lots of repetition to encourage and promote language and communication skills. Baby massage is also beneficial as it allows opportunity for carer and baby to communicate and bond. As parent is giving baby a massage they can gain eye contact, use ‘motherese’ whilst giving baby lots of soothing and positive facial expressions. Examples of activities within placement to promote language development are; songs and nursery rhymes children can develop new words through listening to songs and rhymes.

Within my 1-3 year old placement setting, we have used songs and rhymes which are age and stage appropriate to promote language and communication development. Songs and rhymes often have lots of repetition and simple phrases. Children can also dance and clap along to the songs and rhymes which would also promote physical development. An activity such as this links to ‘The Birth to Three Matter Curriculum, A Skilful Communicator’. Children begin to build the confidence in speaking out loud as they sing along with the CD.

This activity promotes listening skill as they need to listen to the different songs and rhymes and learn them. It also links to ‘A Competent Learner’ as they are learning through gestures, actions, sounds and feelings. As some of the songs and rhymes have actions and dances the children’s physical development is promoted which links to ‘A Healthy Child’. Through actions and dance the children are being active, acquiring new physical skills and gaining control of their body. I se body language and the tone of my voice to help me to communicate more effectively with the children because it can help them to encourage their excitement and enthusiasm for what they are doing. When working with babies I repeat the sounds that the baby makes, I always smile and make faces and talk to them all the time which can help them to extend their vocabulary as well building relationships. Babies can’t speak but they communicate in different way such as smiling, eye-contact so it is important to talk to babies.

For example when playing it is important to maintain eye contact and smile because this will help the baby to keep concentrated on the activity as well as it will help to build relationships. It is important to use loving kind words because the baby will know we are speaking positively, while doing this it is also important to speak quietly and keep eye contact with the baby because this will help to cut out distractions. Persona dolls can also be an effective play activity to promote language and communication.

The dolls can have different ethnic groups and can also be used to talk about gender, behaviour and emotions. Multi ethnic dolls give children from different cultural backgrounds something to relate to. The advantage of having persona dolls is that it creates another character within the setting this can be beneficial and enjoyable for the children. The doll can have different personalities, and talk about likes and dislikes etc. Children can their thoughts, and use this as an opportunity to help make sense of feelings or thoughts.

Children can also learn how to respect other by taking turns in listening and speaking during conversation. This activity would also link to the ‘The Birth to Three Matters Curriculum, A Skilful Communicator’; as children begin to build confidence in speaking out loud and engaging in conversation. Persona dolls can be used as a group activity but can also be beneficial to be used as a one-to-one activity. Within my 1-3 year old placement setting there are persona dolls, but I have improvised and used other dolls and teddies in the same manner as persona dolls which proved to be as affective.

Story books can be used as a one-to-one activity. There are lots of age and stage appropriate books for the young children within my placement setting, relating to real life situations. These are excellent for children that may be dealing with slightly unusual situations within their home environment; they may be distressful situations such as home pet dying or a happy situation, they may be expecting a new sibling. At the moment I’m placed with children between the age of 2 ? and 3 years.

Children tend to ask me a lot to read them stories. While doing this I ensure that I read them with enthusiasm as well as speaking clearly and slowly. I also ensure that I point to pictures to help them to get a better understanding. Also when I’m reading I tend to run my finger under each word and this will help the child to realize that words connect with the pictures. When reading for example animal stories I also tend to use a variety of noises this will help children to enjoy story time and not feeling bored.

There are some children that English isn’t their first language so I tend to highlight the main word and point at the picture for example there is a story about colours, it has different fruits, animals and objects and it tells a little about each one but instead of complicating I usually encourage the child to say the colour and if they don’t know I point to the picture and say the name of the colour clearly and I make them repeat it. There are some children that speak the same language as me (Portuguese) so firstly I ask them if they know the colour in their own language then I make them say in English.

When asking questions whether it’s about the book for example I tend to ask “What you think it will happen next? ” or if they say the correct colour or shape of the picture I always praise the child by using words such as “well done”, “fantastic” and I can see straight away gain confidence. I always ensure that I give children the equal opportunities so if there is a quieter child, probably they have low self-esteem I encourage the child to take part in the story and give the opportunity for them to answer questions.

There can be communication barriers and child care workers need to ensure they are aware of each child’s individual needs so they have equal opportunities. In my setting there are children that English isn’t their first language and some don’t understand English so it is important to use a lot of gestures and pictures, for example when I ask a child to draw something I always ensure I demonstrate so they know what they have to do. When reading stories for children from other countries I tend to use simple vocabulary and point at pictures and encourage them to say in English.

As I am Portuguese and there are some Portuguese children in the setting, when I’m reading stories to them and asking for colours of the pictures children answer me in Portuguese and then I encourage them to say in English. One child didn’t know his colours in English but after I taught him he know 4 colours now. It is also important to have some pictures demonstrating basic rules in the classroom. For example in one of my placement at the book corner they have pictures showing a boy with his legs cross and that is what children are required to do at the book corner.

If a child has language impediment, it is also important to emphasise the word, for example: “Do you want glass of water? ” “Water, water? ” and I also use paraphrasing which means that I summarise what has been said so the child will remember and understand. Other way to help communicating with children with language impairment is to learn “Makaton” which is a basic sign language. In my setting there is no child with a hearing impediment although it is important to make eye contact with them, when talking to children is important to show clear mouth movements but not exaggerate and also speak clearly. Role play” interaction is important because it helps children to communicate with others. Visual impairment is other barrier so I wouldn’t be able to use non- verbal communication as for those children with blindness so I would have to use verbal communication. When trying to get their attention it is important to touch their shoulder so children will know that they care being called. Braille is commonly used for the visually impaired, this is a method used for reading braille books and writing.

Auditory and sensory learning could also be used in order for the child to reach their full potential. There are some physical barriers that some abnormalities in the mouth, throat, nose and tongue that may effect the speech for example dysarthia is a motor speech disorder in which muscles of mouth, face and respiratory system become weak and may move slowly or not at all. This may result in slurred or slow speech, drooling, and chewing or swallowing difficulty.

So it is important to be very patient as children may speak slowly also encouraging children to take a breath before speaking and use short sentences. Any specialised or additional learning strategy for children’s learning and development should not be introduced before notifying the parents first. Parents and carers need to learn the same additional communication techniques as the child in order for it to be effective and beneficial. This is not a form of communication that I have learnt or practiced but would be keen to do so.

Squire, G., 2007, BTEC National Children’s Care, Learning and Developmental, Heinemann Edinburgh Sandy. G,., 2007,BTEC National Children’s Care Learning and Developmental. Book 1. Nelson Thornes, London Accessed 16/03/13

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