Social interaction plays a major role in our everyday lives to maintain a fulfilled and healthy social life. Did you know that social interaction also plays a major role in language development in children? Before children can produce their first word, there are many pre-linguistic skills they need to learn. Children learn to make facial expressions, babble, gesture, and make sounds. When they make facial expressions (and all listed above), their caregiver responds to them. Each time their caregiver responds, and the child responds back an interaction has started. From these interactions children learn the foundation for future communication skills. Children learn that they can send a message that is meaningful to another person. The message begins with a gesture and eventually transforms into words. During these exchanges the child learns the power of communication and continues growing their vocabulary to communicate with their parents and others.
As interaction with parents is important, children interacting with other children also plays a major role in language development. Children take what they learnt from interacting with their parents and apply it to interacting with others. When children have the opportunity to interact with other children, they can observe how other children communicate and participate in meaningful interactions with them. Children naturally do not put pressure on each other, making interactions engaging, resulting in opportunities to imitate language. During these interactions children learn to use gestures or words to communicate and they also learn important pragmatic (social) skills important for communication. Children learn that they need to take turns talking, initiate interactions, maintain interactions, use appropriate gestures and so much more. These skills are all crucial in the foundation for language development and successful communication.
Overall, social interaction plays a major role in language development. The more opportunities your child has to interact with a variety of adults and children, the stronger their communication skills will be.
Written by Kristen Lipp, Registered Speech-Language Pathologist with Wildflowers