Express yourself

Whether your baby is one month old, one year or 3 years you’ve probably noticed how he or she takes any chance to communicate with you and have a say on what’s going on around him or her. Recent studies have been placing more and more weight on children’s right to be heard about matters that affect them. It is through their participation on daily matters that their self-esteem is enhanced, overall capacities are promoted, their sense of autonomy and independence is heightened, and they work on their social competence and resilience.

These studies suggest that sometimes we underestimate children’s capacity for participation; kids aren’t passive recipients for care and protection. Every day there is more and more evidence suggesting that from a very early age they are (1) experts in their own lives and are capable of communicating their unique point of view on any given experience, (2) they’re skillful communicators with a wide range of “languages” to articulate their views, (3) they’re active agents with the power to influence and manipulate the world around them, and (4) they’re meaning makers capable of constructing/interpreting meaning in their lives.

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With Kinedu Videos, Parents​ ​speak​ ​and​ ​engage​ ​with​ ​infants​ ​more in digitally scaffolded interactions

Emily Hembacher, Veronica Cristiano, and Michael C. Frank Stanford University

Parenting advice is increasingly delivered through apps and video sites, and often takes the form of digitally-scaffolded parent-child interactions. Although these activities are designed to promote learning and cognitive development, it is unclear how they might affect the overall quality of parent-child interactions. Quality of interactions can be measured by both the social engagement of parents (joint attention; JA) and the quality of language (e.g., vocabulary diversity). How do digitally-scaffolded interactions affect the social and linguistic characteristics of parents’ speech to their children?

Parents of 6- to 24-month-olds ( n = 60) interacted with their infants by playing with a set of toys for 3 minutes. Half first watched one of six possible age-matched videos from a parenting app (Kinedu, Inc) describing activities meant to promote cognitive development, for example, sorting toys according to size. The remaining parents were simply told to play with the toys with their infants as they would at home.

The sessions were recorded, transcribed, and coded for JA. We examined number of words spoken (tokens) and lexical diversity (ratio of word types to tokens). Intriguingly, video condition parents produced more tokens ( β = 55.58, p = .03), but had lower lexical diversity ( β = -.12, p < .001). In contrast, video condition parents made more bids for JA ( β = 3.51, p < .01), although the number and duration of JA episodes did not differ between groups (p s = .62-.97). Following digitally-scaffolded activities may cause parents to engage with and speak more to children overall, but speak more repetitively.

Developing thinking skills through play

Some of our key thinking skills are developed since we are curious little babies, wanting to explore our world. Learn a bit more about some of them, and how they are fostered through play.

Cause and effect: The appearance of this skill is an early sign of intelligence. Babies experience the effect they have on objects by chance –like accidentally making a ball roll and light up. At first, they don’t make the connection between their action and the result it brings, but then, at around 7 months, babies begin to learn that they can affect their surroundings, and make things happen. They then begin to act with purpose to produce a desired outcome, like pushing a button to make a sound play.

Spatial relationships: We use this skill to solve everyday problems; it helps us understand how things fit together. Children experiment with it through play by placing objects in different containers or, for example, turning an object around until it fits and is inserted in a shape sorting box. Toddlers then learn that objects are made up of parts, and that these parts can be put together to make something new. This can be observed when playing with building blocks.

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The ABC’s for helping your child develop self-esteem

Children build their self-esteem through experiences. When you play with your little one and allow her the space to be herself, you are nurturing her confidence. Keep reading to find a step-by-step guide to helping your bundle of joy develop her self-worth.

A is for Appreciation

When your baby is born you are the most fascinating thing in the world for her! That’s why she looks at you in such a miraculous and admiring way. Since she is born, your baby starts appreciating what you give her. She appreciates the warmth of your touch, the light in the hallway because she knows mommy is on her way, etc. Your baby is born into the world feeling appreciative.

So, to make her feel appreciated, you must first pay close attention to her. Turn your expectations into appreciations and acknowledge the reality of who she is. What does she enjoy? How is she like? Allowing your little one to find what truly interests her, rather than what everyone else likes, is part of building her own identity. If your child is playing in the sandbox alone it doesn’t mean she is lonely or has low self-esteem; find out what she is doing that intrigues her so much.

Pay attention to her feelings and try to understand what your little one means —positioning yourself in her little shoes. Observe and ask yourself what she might be feeling when you say or do something. Appreciate her feelings, recognize the legitimacy of what she wants and let her know you know that. When your little one feels understood she feels accepted and loved.

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Get Speechy This Fall with These Activities!

  1. Nature Walk

Nature walks are the perfect fall activity! Every tiny friend needs to get those wiggles out from time to time and it is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. As you wander around your neighborhood, a park or a trail, chat about all of the things that you may see (leaves, a deer, sticks, rocks, a creek, a squirrel, etc.). If you have time to plan ahead of it, you can even make a list of potential things you might encounter and make a scavenger hunt out of the walk. If you don’t have time to prep, ‘I spy’ is just as speechy (“I spy something falling”, “I spy something green”, “I spy an animal with wings”, etc.)

  1. Have an Apple Day

Apples and fall just seem to go together! I love having apple days with little ones once fall rolls around. Whether you go apple picking or to the market, you can talk about all of the different types of apples you find (red, green, yellow, hard, bruised, small, stem less, etc.) Once you get back home you will have the perfect bounty to bake with! Baking is a go-to speechy activity because there are directions to follow and a rich plethora of vocabulary words (pour, mix, scoop, stir, bake, blend, etc.). Go big with an apple pie or start small with applesauce – either way you will boost a ton of language, have fun and enjoy a yummy treat with your kid!

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