Friday, August 7, 2015

Talking is Teaching

My baby recently reached the age where she is starting to coo and make sounds. The first time she made a throaty little gurgle, I got so excited! Now, when I get down on her level and talk to her about her day, she loves to “talk” back to me, no doubt thinking that we are having an actual conversation. When we bring her around family it is not uncommon for them to mimic her sounds back to her. Little do they know that through this back and forth communication, they are helping her develop language skills that will significantly help her in the future.  

Talking with your child helps develop more than just language skills. Executive function is a child’s ability to be calm and focused. As parents we can help children develop these skills as well as the ability to regulate emotions and impulses.  Why is this important? If we begin teaching these skills to our children at an early age it can prepare them for future success in school and life. The best part is that there are no fancy tools or equipment required; all you need is yourself!

Here we learn that we can teach babies these skills through play. Simple games like peek-a-boo and singing songs about everyday things the child can see will help develop their executive function.

Talking with your child as you do things together around the house helps them understand what is happening. Also, narrating what they are doing while you play together helps give them the corresponding words. If your child is playing with a ball and throws it on the ground, say “You threw the red ball, and it bounced!”

Simply talking at your child is not enough. The “conversational duet” is what researchers call the back and forth caregivers use when interacting with children. It is important to talk with your child without interruption. Studies show that language learning doesn’t happen when conversations are interrupted. 

The article linked above teaches that “when parents keep the conversation going, rather than simply trying to get their children to hear as many words as possible, they are preparing their children for later language and school success.” It is more important to have quality interactions than a large quantity of words.

As parents, we do everything we can to help our children grow and develop. By having meaningful conversations with our children, no matter their age, and teaching them through every day interactions we are setting them up for success.

What are some of your favorite things to talk with your children about?

- Amanda

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