Are you talking to me?

New research from MIT supports the idea that to foster your child’s development, specifically his or her language development, parents don’t just need to talk to their kids, they should talk with them (meaning back-and-forth exchanges).

“What we found is, the more often parents engaged in back-and-forth conversation with their child, the stronger was the brain response in the front of the brain to language” (Gabrieli, 2018).

In this case, a stronger brain response is a reflection of a more profound understanding and engagement with language. So, it’s not just the number of words your baby hears, it’s the interactions and twists and turns in the conversation that matter. A rich verbal environment is made up of exactly that, resulting in greater language and cognitive outcomes later on.

In this MIT study, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they discovered that children who experienced more conversations had more brain activity while they listened to stories. Their Broca’s area, which is a region in the frontal lobe of the brain that is involved in language processing, was more engaged. In this study, what was highlighted was the importance of the language base in the relationship between parents and kids. The streaming of a tape or an endless cartoon show will not have the same benefits that the day to day interactions between a loved one and their baby.

Next time you’re with your little one, try exaggerating the way you talk and your facial expressions, all the while responding to the sounds your baby makes. Keep an eye out for your baby’s attempts at communicating with you maybe through babbles and grunts. When this happens, you can respond and talk back. For example, if your baby babbles at you while you’re changing him or her, you can talk about what you’re going to do later, ask if he or she likes that particular outfit, etc. Don’t expect an answer, simply acknowledge his or her conversational attempts.

There’s no time like the present to start. Whatever your current situation is, it can be baby on the way, newborn, toddler or preschooler, you can adapt the conversations to your child’s current capabilities. It may all ball down to gurgles, sounds or imitation, but that back and forth is more valuable than we believe.

You can find tons of activity ideas that can help you foster your child’s language development in Kinedu! Head over to our Catalog today for daily inspiration =)

If you want to learn more, check out these links:

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