Engaging children with language

We just got an email newsletter that emphasized the importance of engaging children with language early in their development. The newsletter created two parenting scenarios, one in which an attentive mother of a toddler (walking with, instead of pushing) her child down the street, takes the time to explain her surroundings, and celebrate the pitfalls of urban life (loud fire engine sirens and splashes from puddles). In the other, a hurried mother pushes her child in a stroller while talking on the phone, and treats the same pitfalls as, well, pitfalls.

Having just rushed our children off to school (though we did walk) with very little language stimulus that wasn’t related to the urgency of the moment (and how long it was taking to get shoes on) might have contributed to the defensive posture we assumed after reading the newsletter. But there are some nuggets in the parenting scenarios, especially related to how critical it is to continually expose children to language at a young age.

Particularly in the critical stage of brain development (when only stimulation is required to develop neural pathways), continuous exposure to language is of utmost importance. The differences in students early experiences with language and literacy are meaningful: by first grade, children whose parents have engaged them with language know twice as many words as those whose parents have not. And it continues: high school seniors near the top of their class know four times as many words as their lower-performing peers, whose vocabularies are equivalent to high-performing third graders.

Want some good news (especially if you were feeling judged by the parenting examples we described above like we were)?Ā Deficits in vocabulary may be fundamentally more remediable than many other school learning problems. In other words, Fast ForWord can help!

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One Response to “Engaging children with language”

  1. Can we be serious here for a minute? « Thoughts from Be Amazing Learning Says:

    […] We’ve also previously posted about the importance of engaging children with language. […]

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