New research presented in February 2014 to the American Association for the Advancement of Science shows that talking intelligently helps babies and toddlers vocabulary skills. This will help the babies and toddlers lean through context to connect words with their meanings. Longer and more complex sentences are better to use and try to use them in real conversations with your baby or toddler. It is fine if some of the conversation goes over their heads. Over time they will figure out meanings through context and that’s the goal of better communication.
Fighting the Word Gap
Scientists have known for a long time that children from middle class and affluent families have better vocabularies before they start kindergarten, which leaves the poorer children with smaller vocabularies less ready to succeed academically. Even brain scan research shows that children from higher socioeconomic background use more of their brains for language development. It’s not uncommon to find a 5 year old from a poor family lagging behind by 2 years and that often too far a distance to overcome as they age. The new study shows that already at 2 years old, kids from more affluent families are 6 months ahead. This is the rational behind the growing push for universal preschool, to help disadvantaged children to catch up. This new research also shows that this education must start at least during toddler ages to prevent the gap. This is also behind the the recent push to stress talking, singing and reading to your children even before they can respond. All of these requests can be very tough indeed for parents who are working multiple jobs, or who may not read well themselves, or who just don’t know why it’s important for their children.
Attention and Context is Key
Sentence: “The Doggie is on the Bench.” If a child doesn’t first know what a dogie is then they have little chance to start figuring out what a bench is. In studies with hidden recorders, some children form middle class and affluent families heard more than 12,000 words of child-directed speech in a day, while the children from poor families only heard a mere 670 words. Children who receive more child-directed speech, process language more efficiently and learn words more quickly.
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