My first baby was colicky and my husband and I spent many sleepless nights and weary days trying to learn how to help her feel better. One of the things I learned by accident was that the more I talked with her and told her what to expect, the better she handled things and the less she cried. By the time she was a year old, it was very clear to me that she understood me when I told what we were about to do and this really helped her with transitions. All these years later a study has reinforced and explained what I was experiencing. Reuters Health just published an article about a new study of almost 9000 children showing the importance of early language acquisition. The children’s vocabulary was measured at the age of two.
The researchers followed-up at kindergarten to see how the children were doing. The interesting thing about the results was the broad effect that a larger vocabulary had, not just on reading, but on math skills and on the children’s behavior. The study showed that children who had greater vocabularies at age two did indeed have higher skills in reading, and they also scored higher in math and in “behavioral self-regulation.” In other words the ability to communicate at an early age translated into kindergarteners who were not jsut better students, but were less likely to be anxious or to act out in disruptive or aggressive ways.
It makes perfect sense if you think about it -- when you can communicate your fears and frustrations or just your needs, they are less likely to manifest themselves in unproductive behavior. The good news is that growing bigger vocabularies is not that hard to do. Talking with your child from birth is an important start. Also, before they can physically form words, babies and toddlers can learn some simple sign language. Preschool really makes a difference in childhood literacy, and there is also help for parents wanting to grow their baby's and toddler's vocabulary. Here at Our Savior's Lutheran School we are starting a Parent and Me (formerly called Mommy and Me) class on October 2. Parents may bring their 0 - 3 year old for classes in which parents and their little one will learn a variety of communication techniques while participating in fun early learning activities together.
The teacher, Mrs. Wolfarth, has provided some examples:
- We will learn about feeling and simple signs to communicate them
- We will learn feeding signs like “more”, “all done”, “yes” , “no” and “milk”
- We will learn songs about colors, shapes, and body parts
Check out this flyer for more information