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Book empowers parents, optimizes communication skills

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Communication is inevitable. But effective communication is critical—it is the foundation of healthy relationships, the competitive advantage needed in an interview and the core of growth and success. According to Dr. Julie Masterson, communication sciences and disorders professor at Missouri State University, communication skills begin to develop immediately after birth and are, in fact, the basis of lifelong language and literacy skills.

“Certainly exposure to oral language in the earliest years of life is crucial, and strong exposure and enhancement of literacy skills in preschool and early elementary is important,” said Masterson. “However, language and literacy skills continue to develop across the lifespan—we just have to recognize it. Students in high school and college are continuing to develop their language skills, as evidenced by increasing professional vocabulary and critical thinking in reading and writing.”

Masterson believes that knowledge is power. In her recently released and fully revised version of “Beyond Baby Talk,” sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, she suggests that parents who know how to effectively engage in their child’s literacy development can optimize their child’s communication skills. The book offers many practical ideas about the different ways a parent can accomplish this.

“We want to empower parents and caretakers with this information so that they know what to look for so they aren’t unnecessarily worried or anxious,” said Masterson. “At the same time, this information also helps them know if there is something warranting concern and what to do about it.”

Although Masterson believes there is no single, critical, period in language development, she does provide some advice to parents.

“Be thoroughly familiar with the stages of development, so you know what should happen at various ages, and then relax and enjoy,” said Masterson. “Know about all the things you can do to ‘naturally’ enhance language and literacy development. These occur in everyday activities and are fun. Most don’t cost anything, and they don’t require specialized training.”

Her book, “Beyond Baby Talk” addresses the influencers on language and literacy development, and includes two new chapters about reading and spelling, and the myths and trends of communication development. The newly revised book also includes an updated chapter on media.

“Parents are bombarded with questions…and the book provides answers,” she said. “It’s a tremendous journey.”

For more information, contact Masterson at (417) 836-5368.

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