Words matter to all of us—what’s said and the way they’re said, but that’s especially true for the youngest among us. For children 0-3 years old, words are vital to their development. Their brains are growing and developing more during this time than any other, producing 700 new neural connections every second! Because their brains develop and grow so rapidly early in life, any experience—whether positive and negative—can have a huge impact on them.
Parents can support their infants’ brain development by incorporating language into their normal interactions with their babies. Talk and explain what you’re doing!
●Are you doing chores? Cleaning out the car; washing dishes; picking up recycling to take to the bins?
●Are you out an errand? Needing to shop for a birthday gift or off to visit a friend?
●Maybe you’re playing together! You can say: “I’m going to pick up this red block and stack it on top of the blue block.”
Help them understand their everyday routines by narrating the steps and reasons behind them!
- Why is a diaper being changed?
- What makes it necessary for bath time?
Speaking of bath time—that can be turned into play time! And, of course, since play is synonymous with learning for young children, bath time can be the perfect time to name concepts like wet versus dry or what it means when something floats or sinks.
Don’t worry if you feel you’re doing a stand-up routine or monologue–you’re child is listening and taking in every word you say!
Talk about words! Are you familiar with the term Word Gap? If not, it represents the difference in vocabulary skills between children of different socio-economic levels. In fact, in a Word Gap NPR segment, it cited studies that said children from low-income families could hear approximately 30 million fewer words by age 3 than children from more affluent families. Results from a study by Hart & Risley laid out the situation plain and simple:
“Simply in words heard, the average child on welfare was having half as much experience per hour (616 words per hour) as the average working-class child (1,251 words per hour) and less than one-third that of the average child in a professional family (2,153 words per hour).”
Also, student success goes hand-in-hand with reading ability.
Play is the young child’s natural mode for learning. Play facilitates a curious mind to expand, absorb and assimilate data. The effect play has cannot be overstated; as it relates to reading and vocabulary, read Play’s Impact on Literacy. I recently read a NPR article on the importance of talking to your child, giving them a vocabulary-rich world from the perspective of a cochlear implant surgeon. The surgeon notes “without that language environment, the ability to hear is a wasted gift.” And so her entry in activism began…
Here I am at an Encompass NW MOMS meeting week; introducing them to Play & Grow and all the ways I work to support parents. Remember parents are their children’s 1st and most important teachers! Play & Grow’s Go PLAY Activity Cards supports literacy with fingerplays and/or songs as well as suggesting books to read. So, I donated books to be raffled! And this is the (darn cute) growing and developing brain Mom will be introducing words—and more words too with these books!
What’s your favorite way to introduce new words to your baby? Do you like to sing with your child to introduce new words and ideas or tell/read stories? Tell ME about it…I always like to hear from you!
Yours in Play!