Babies communicate from the time they are born. Between birth and 3 to 5 years of age, early communication skills develop into the structures, words, sentences, and stories of language.
Grown-ups communicate with babies and toddlers in many ways to capture their attention or soothe them when they are upset. These things don’t seem like learning activities, but they are.
These early learning experiences are important. They teach skills like turn-taking and ‘joint regard’ (paying attention to the same thing at the same time someone else is paying attention to it).
Babies and young children need these skills to learn their first words and become ready to use the formal rules of language to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. But children need more. Children need ‘time in language’.
Children learn the language or languages that are used with them and around them. Most children who are deaf or hard of hearing have parents who have typical hearing levels. Without support, these children miss out on important ‘time in language’ and conversational turns needed to learn language.
The good news is that options are available that allow children who are deaf or hard hearing receive the ‘time in language’ they need to succeed.