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Want to build your children’s vocabularies and increase their intelligence? Then talk to your children as much as you can. Studies show that talking frequently to your children from the moment they are born will help them enter school better prepared and will help them excel as they get older.
Research is showing that things like baby videos and flashcards don’t have nearly the same impact as talking directly to your child. Having quality conversations with your children promotes brain development and helps them develop important language skills. The sooner you start the better. Even if your baby doesn’t understand all of it, it is helping.
At this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science several presentations focused on research about how children’s vocabularies develop. Vocabulary is important because words are building blocks for further learning. Children learn words by putting them into context. If a child already knows a lot of words, the child will then be able to figure out new words faster because it is easier to put them in context. As children make connections, their intelligence increases and they are prepared to learn even more new words.
According to the research presented, here are some important things you can do when talking to your child:
The goal of the research is to find ways to close the “word gap” between children from lower income families and more affluent families. Studies have found that children from more affluent families are exposed to millions of more words by the time they start school than children from poorer families. Brain scans have shown that children from higher income families have larger regions of the brain devoted to language development.
Educators are worried because many children are starting kindergarten two years behind other students in language development.
Recently the focus has been on using preschool to help children catch up. But according to the recent research this might be too late. The gap can start as early as 18 months old, while many believe that it starts as early as birth. Many are hoping that educating parents on the importance of speaking to their children will help.
Talking to Kids Really Matters: Early Language Experience Shapes Later Life Chances (American Association for the Advancement of Science)