We all know about the importance of reading and talking to your children at an early age. Parents sometimes use special headphones to talk to their babies during pregnancy – futuristic! When we talk with and read to our children we expose them to a wider range of vocabulary, different noises that have different purposes, and show them that people’s voices vary in cadence.
Research tells us that a baby’s brain triples in size during their first 3 years of life! One of the most important things a baby can experience during this amazing time is communication with parents. We can be the key to growing their neurological connections by just having an open dialogue with them. Amazing!
In addition, research shows that if babies are exposed to more words and vocabulary during these formative years, they can become better readers due to their extensive vocabulary and knowledge base.
Would you like to learn more about this topic? Grab the book, Thirty Million Words by Dr. Dana Suskind, a pediatric cochlear implant surgeon. The fascination about language growth in different patients stemmed research into a topic that displayed staggering results. We won’t share the specifics because, SPOILER ALERTS! But the main takeaway from the book we got: the more language a child hears during their formative years, the more prepared they are to start school.
Keep this simple fact in mind, language is language is language. The more your child hears, the more they learn. Chances are, as you talk to your child more, you will start using more descriptive language and talk about topics more in depth. Probably because you are most likely talking about the same topics on repeat and are tired of being a broken record. This constant communication helps your child understand social skills. The book notes the importance of interactive communication with children. Interactive communication is just that, asking questions, waiting for answers, having a back and forth reciprocal conversation that is for enjoyment, not just a directive like, “Go brush your teeth.” If they can’t answer yet, provide an answer for them. This teaches children about the back and forth quality of conversations.
TL;DNR: Talk A LOT with your kids…any and all talking (with the exception of those choice words we as parents sometimes use) is good for your child to hear. Talk about the sky, “Wow, the sky sure looks blue today. Did you see that airplane up there? I can count 3 airplanes, one, two, three. Wonder where they are going.” You get the idea. This talking can be baby talk, it can be directive talk, it can be reading the newspaper aloud, any talk is good talk. So talk it up!
Don’t be disheartened if you didn’t talk a ton to your kiddos when they were little; or maybe they weren’t with you and you aren’t sure what their language exposure was – it’s okay!! Start talking now! Our brain is truly amazing and continues to create new pathways for learning and language.
Check out Thirty Million Words on Facebook and at their website (http://thirtymillionwords.org/tmw-initiative/). If you Google Thirty Million Words, some really great videos from their initiative come up on Facebook.