If you’re a parent or caregiver, have you found yourself talking to your baby as you’ve changed their diaper? Do you hear parents in the grocery story talking to their infants about what they’re buying or the things they see, even though the baby is too young to understand?
The instinct to talk, sing, and point with our babies and young children may seem silly. If you’ve been surprised to find yourself singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider while buttoning a onesie, you know what we're talking about.
The good news is that talking, singing, and pointing with your baby or young child are actually some of the most important things you can do to build a strong and healthy brain!
Children learn language from the moment they are born. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing or point to what you are talking about, you provide clues to the meaning of what you are saying. Talking is teaching.
We neglect the power and significance of conversation with young children because it seems so simple. But the simplicity is what makes it so wonderful. Anyone can do this.
This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is one of the 5 Basics every child needs to get a great start in life. Here are 10 reasons it’s so important to talk with your child from the very beginning:
1. You’re teaching them what communication is about, what love is about, and what relationships are about.
2. Talking to your child from a very young age is a way of constantly offering them information, and this helps them feel valued, important, and respected.
3. Talking teaches them what conversation looks like: how to listen, how to respond, how to take turns.
4. Responding to their babbling and early forms of talking builds their confidence to express themselves with words later on.
5. The more words they hear, the more words they can use. When a child has a “language-rich” environment, they are better prepared for school and for life. Think of words as nourishment for a child’s brain!
Research shows that that “verbally engaging with babies—listening to their gurgles and coos and then responding, conversation-style—may speed up their language development more than simply talking at them or around them.”
6. Talking is more than just speaking. Pointing and singing should be used too. Pointing to what you're talking about helps to name objects for your child. When you point and sing, it also models pointing and singing for your child, which provides them with additional ways to communicate with you, even before their speaking skills are fully developed.
7. When conversation is a regular part of your relationship with your young child, it helps set the stage for the later years.
8. By asking your toddler “engaging questions,” they learn to expand their language and unpack their ideas. For example, if your child says, “There’s a doggie!” You can respond with, “Yes, that’s a doggie! What color is that doggie?” or “Why do you think that doggie has fur?”
9. Talking is an opportunity to answer the many questions your child has and helps them learn about the world. Remember, everything about the world is brand new to your young child! They ask a lot of questions because they are naturally curious and want to learn. Use their questions as an opportunity to teach them.
10. Our words matter. They have power. Not just for healthy language development, but for emotional development. Words are an incredible way to communicate to your child how special they are, how loved they are, how valued they are. Be purposeful with your words and use them in ways that build up your child.
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 with their little ones.
- Visit the “Talk, Sing, and Point” page and 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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