Did you know that children learn language through relationship? They depend on parents and caregivers to talk and engage with them. This is how language develops and how babies begin to learn about the world around them. When it comes to brain development, talking and human interactions are literal superpowers, building a young child’s brain architecture in ways that will last a lifetime.
If this feels like a lot of work, don’t be overwhelmed. A child's brain will naturally develop through daily exposure to conversation. Everyday life is filled with opportunities to talk, sing, and point with your little one, helping his brain build powerful connections about language and the world around him! All you need to do is “narrate life.”
As you go throughout your day, simply talk about what you’re doing and what you see. Here are some examples of narrating life with your baby:
It’s time to change your diaper. Let’s unbutton your onesie and get out the wipes. This wipe is cold! I'll hurry! Okay, let’s button you back up. Now it’s time to eat. Are you hungry?
We’re going to the store. Let’s get in your car seat. First one arm, then the other. Okay, let’s buckle up to keep you safe. Good job!
What can we find on our walk? Do you see the green trees? I hear a bird! Do you hear a bird? The bird says tweet tweet!
It’s time to get ready for bed. First we’ll change your diaper, then we’ll put on your pajamas, and then we’ll read a book. I see a bear on the cover of this book. Let’s point to the bear.
When you talk, be sure to pause, giving your baby or toddler a chance to respond. Yes, even infants will chatter back to you, smile, or kick their feet in response. This is their way of engaging with you and “making conversation,” even before they can use words.
As your child get older, keep narrating life. The fun part now is that they can engage more in conversation and even ask questions. This is how they learn (and why they ask a lot of questions!)
When you ride in the car, ask them what they see. Cows? A red sign? Houses?
When you’re in the store, talk about what you’re putting in the cart and what you’re going to make with the ingredients.
Talk about why they have to take a bath and how finishing their meal helps them grow strong and healthy.
Parents and caregivers, you are everyday narrators and you have a captive audience! Seize the opportunity of the early years when your child's brain is rapidly developing. Your voice and your everyday routines provide all that you need to engage with your child through simple conversation and responsiveness.
TheBasics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life
Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:
- Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are "Talking, Singing, and Pointing" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
- Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
- Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
- If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
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