Children’s speech at the very beginning of development comes down to the releasing of various incomprehensible voices accompanied by gestures and facial expressions, to later be formed into real speech.
In addition to the age of the child, for the normal development of children’s speech, it is necessary to meet anatomical and psychological preconditions.
Beginnings of Child’s Speech
The newborn, the little child, with its cooing, with the so-called baby speech, simply finds pleasure, no matter what he/she achieves with it.Rubinstein S. L.
The First Voices
The very first inarticulate voices that the baby makes when sucking, swallowing, and belching, while expecting to breastfeed, are an expression of its feelings of satisfaction during those activities. With well-developed speech, it expresses feelings more clearly.
Even before the first words are formed, the child is able to respond with different voices to pleasant and unpleasant words heard in conversations close to it, because it understands them even before pronouncing them.
The First Words
At the age of 2, a child already pronounces certain words. At that age, can express its basic desires and needs and is partially able to communicate verbally with the people from the surrounding.
Speech, Gestures, and Facial Expression
The voices created by the child are accompanied by gestures and facial expressions, and over time, this practice is reversed. The more developed the child’s speech, the fewer gestures there are.
In a 3-year-old child, most of the communication with others is gestural rather than verbal, and already in 4 year-olds, the ratio is reversed, the verbal expression prevails over the gestural one.
Preconditions for Normal Child’s Speech Development
Speech can only develop properly if certain anatomical and physiological preconditions are met.
In front of the region of the brain that serves to understand speech, in the back of the left frontal cortex is the motor center responsible for speech. Here all the nerve pathways gather, descend into the spinal cord, and control the function of the cerebral nerves, which in turn directly control the movements of the mouth and tongue.
The two cerebral hemispheres are interconnected. Therefore, when one hemisphere is damaged, such as in case of bleeding, tumor, or another brain disease, it regularly causes more or less disruption in the work of the other cerebral hemisphere and thus the ability to speak.
The regions of the brain that serve to understand speech and speech itself are connected to nerve fibers in those areas of the brain that control reading and writing.
Therefore, in case of injury to the region of the brain that is responsible for speech, it regularly causes disabilities in reading and writing, and such impairments of these functions cause difficulties with speech.
The motor center in the brain enables speech itself with the help of the speech organs. If any of them is underdeveloped or damaged, the child will partially speak or will not be able to speak at all, although it has something to say.
Only with the normal functioning of the speech center can the peripheral speech organs work properly, and thus produce intelligible and logical speech. These organs include the nuclei of the cerebral nerves in the extended brain, whose fibers directly control the work of the muscular system for breathing and generating voice.
The muscles that form voice include the muscles of the throat, throat, palate, tongue, and lips. When determining the shape and color of the voice, e.g. in the formation of individual voices and consonants, the lips and nasal cavities, teeth, hard palate, and paranasal sinuses in the bones of the face are also involved.
Hearing is fully developed when the middle and inner ear are healthy as organs, if the auditory nerve is functioning properly, and if the brain region responsible for speech is properly formed.
The child must first have a normally developed hearing in order to be able to hear other people’s speech, as a prerequisite for being able to understand, reproduce, correct, improve, control, and finally actively use speech.
The speech also requires a certain level of intellectual development, i.e. knowledge of ideas and concepts that are characteristics of the intellect. If the child’s intelligence is underdeveloped or lags behind in development, the speech also remains underdeveloped or impossible. Impairment of intellectual functionality – dementia, causes some regression of speech. Various brain damage can impair intellectual development and thus speech.
Understanding the Speech and Language of Others
Before a child can speak, it must first understand the speech and language of others. Later its speech greatly contributed to the development of his thinking, especially in the formation of abstract concepts. Speech is invaluable in achieving emotional contact with the environment. With the help of speech, the child identifies with the adults around it, imitates them, and learns from them. Therefore, speech is based on the mental development of the child and thus his socialization. Speech enables them to communicate, collaborate, and build complex interpersonal relationships.
Speech is of great importance for the mental development of the child and is associated with various functions of the psyche. Speech significantly contributes to its formation as a social being, because speech and bipedal walk are the basic characteristics that distinguish the man from animals.
A fully formed speech is a verbal expression of the psyche. Speech is closely related to other thought activities in a functional whole, such as:
- Understanding what others are saying – language.
- Recognizing and understanding letters – reading.
- Expression in letters – writing.
All these forms of understanding and expression of thought are included in the term speech.