Words about words: Parental engagement can change the course of language development

The first years of life are a critical period for brain development. At this time, the brain is at its most malleable, which presents a time of both great opportunity and vulnerability for a baby. Social interactions during this period are essential for a baby’s language development, so it’s important for parents to understand the vital role they play in their little one’s learning success.

Babies start to learn about language even before they begin to speak. When they cry or babble, and receive a caring response from an adult in return, they are forming and strengthening neural connections related to communication and social skills. These interactions are known as “serve and return” interactions, and are critical for development. Interactive relationships between parents and their babies are not only expected, but are also essential to avoid developmental delays or a negative impact on future well-being. The quality of the baby’s environment and the availability of enriching experiences early on will be critical in determining the strength of his or her future brain architecture.

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Kinedu News: Premium New Feature Coming in the Fall

Hi Readers!

I met up with Cristy and Samantha, two of Kinedu’s Lead Content Creators and Resident Psychologists, to chat about Kinedu Tracks, a premium new feature that they’ve been working on. Keep reading to find out more about this awesome new feature that’s coming in the fall.

 

E: So, what exactly is Kinedu Tracks?

C: Tracks is a new program we’re currently working on that works to develop a specific skill such as sitting, standing, walking. Unlike a Kinedugram, that works to boost development holistically, Tracks are composed of activities that work towards one specific goal.

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The first few years: visual development

Visual development is a sub-domain of the Physical Developmental Area!

Your baby was born with a 20/400 vision – or the equivalent of being legally blind. But not to worry, your baby’s vision will gradually improve. His vision will actually be one of his main tools for learning by taking in all sorts of information about the world around him. Problems with eyesight can cause developmental delays – so make sure your doctor checks your baby’s progress at every visit.

While he can only see out of the periphery in the first few days after birth, your newborn’s not-that-great vision actually serves to protect him from overstimulation. At one month, he will only be able to focus on objects less than 12 inches away! This is about how far the face of the person holding him is, which is mainly what he’ll be interested in anyway. So give him tons of face time, and watch him smile every time he catches a glimpse of your eyes! It is also normal for a baby’s eyes to be crossed the first two months – but eye movements should be coordinated by month three.

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The Kinedu Story

We, as a society, have learned a great deal about the science behind the early years of development. We’ve put much energy and brilliant minds behind this research, but have not yet perfected a way of getting all of this knowledge out to moms and dads who just want what is best for their kids.

This is how Kinedu was born. Kinedu strives to bring the best of what we now know about early development and make this knowledge easy to access and apply for new parents. Research points to the first years as the most important in a child’s development, and we hope to make it easier for parents to not only come up with activities to carry out with their young child, but also make sure that these activities are positively contributing to the child’s brain architecture – actively being built in these early years. Good parenting, especially that which is based on ‘serve-and-return’ interactions, can create a buffer against stressful circumstances that would otherwise derail the proper wiring of the brain, and ensure the creation of the right circuitry. Good parenting can not only buffer, but also create strong brain architecture, which serves as the basis for better health, academic, and social outcomes in children.

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The first few years: auditory development

This article discusses the development of your baby’s sense of hearing  – a sub-domain of the Physical developmental area!

Your baby was born with an excellent sense of hearing – almost as good as an adult’s. He has actually been eavesdropping on your conversations since his 20th week in the womb! So by the time he is born, not only can your baby hear your voice clearly, but he can differentiate between several tones you use, even if he can’t quite understand what you are saying yet. All that practice listening to your conversations has paid off!

Hearing will be important in the development of linguistic, social, and cognitive skills, so checking your baby’s before leaving the hospital is recommended. If you don’t get the chance, look for the Moro reflex by startling him with a loud or unexpected noise before the two-month mark, when the reflex disappears.

One of the earliest auditory skills developed by your baby will be localization – or the ability to pinpoint a sound’s source. During his first year, listening skills will be refined – which you will be able to notice by observing your baby’s attention shifting to the phone ringing, pots clanging, a door slamming – or just someone talking.

You can work on your baby’s audition by playing or making music together, reading to him, and talking to him on a day-to-day basis. Phase out the baby talk gradually, and start providing more opportunities for him to babble, and later speak his first words. Between age one and two, his vocabulary will be growing at an incredible pace, tripling every six months. And by the time he starts school, your now-preschooler will understand nearly everything that is said!

Every child develops at his or her own pace. However, there are things you can do to help his development along. Here’s a Kinedu activity that works to strengthen audition!

Coming soon to Kinedu!

When we launched in mid-2013, we only had activities for babies 0-12 months old. Only a year later, we released the 246 activities for toddlers 13-24 months old!
Our team has been working hard on creating more activities that are both fun and educational for your little ones (and yourself)! These will be in the form of additional activities for years 0-2. Expect a seasonal flair – these will be the first ‘themed’ Kinedu activities!
We’ll keep you posted on release dates so that you have plenty of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holiday activities at hand.
As usual, happy playing!

The first few years: motor development

Motor development is a sub-domain of the Physical Developmental area – look out for the rest of the area’s articles!

Motor skills, like everything else – are learned, and practice is key.

In order to develop her motor skills, your baby needs opportunities to strengthen her muscles, and coordinate her actions. In her first few months, this will come down to getting enough “tummy-time”, which will strengthen upper body muscles. When lying on her back, your baby may start to lift her head momentarily, and turn her head from side to side. Test her grasp reflex – you can place your finger in her hand, she’ll automatically curl her fingers around it!

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