Dr. Sally Ward is a highly respected speech and language therapist, and the Babytalk programme was borne out of a research project into language delayed children. The children whose parents adopted her approach would not only catch their peers up but sometimes overtake them in speech and IQ. Realising that the techniques used could help improve speech development and IQ in any child lead to the development of the Babytalk programme explained in this book. The programme goes right up to pre-school, so don't allow yourself to be mislead by the name 'Babytalk'; the book gives detailed advice right up to the age of four.
This book has become a classic because its techniques are so simple and easy to fit into a daily routine. The basis of the programme is just half an hour every day spent playing with your child. Of course there is more to it than that, as the techniques have to become part of how you interact with your child, rather than 'you've had your half hour go play by yourself!'
Babytalk is as much, if not more, about how you should talk to your baby as getting them to talk to you. The book is full of fascinating case studies featuring the rapid improvements made by speech delayed children whose parents follow her programme. There is advice for parents on bringing up a bilingual baby, or where the language spoken at home is not the language of the country lived in.
What makes Ward's book so valuable is the huge amount of extra information about speech development and child development in general. It gives information on what stage of development an average child should have reached at each age, something which many other books are a little shy of giving in such detail. There are also suggestions for toys and activities for each age.
The Babytalk programme is a commitment, but not too difficult a one. Giving your baby a running commentary about what is going on around them feels a bit strange at first if you are the quiet type, but can soon becomes a habit you find yourself repeating with friends and family!
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.