Around this time, you might notice that your little one gets a bit frustrated or fussy when he tries to express himself and fails. Your baby will enter a range of months in which what he understands and wants to say has not caught up yet to what he’s capable of saying; particularly between 8-24 months of age. That’s why, at the beginning, gestures and imitating will become vital. He’ll watch closely for your cues and try to imitate the words you say, as well as learning how to seek your attention or help. Crying might be the first option, and it’s totally understandable since he can’t put into words what he wants and that is frustrating.
We’ve previously discussed how your little one starts communicating through gestures since he’s around 5 months and how different types of gestures impact his learning process. We’ve also mentioned the discovery of how preschoolers use gestures to better understand a situation and how this correlates to their efficacy when doing a task. Here we’ll briefly talk about gestures and how they impact children’s problem-solving skills.
Around this time, you’ll notice that your child is starting to understand simple concepts like the difference between big and small. As you continue to foster his cognitive development, you’ll see how he starts understanding numbers, spatial prepositions, and makes mental representations of an object. You might notice that he even understands a lot more words than he can say. It’s been demonstrated that adults and children express their cognitive understanding through gestures before they are able to put it into words, especially when learning something new.
We’ve previously talked about the importance of gestures in your child’s language development. In this article we will pin point different types of gestures that have been researched along with their effect on children’s learning processes.
Your baby begins communicating with you through gesticulations when she’s around 5 months. She can let you know what she likes or dislikes and is constantly catching up with your gestures and voice. The ability to communicate with gestures and learn through them doesn’t stop at 24 months when your little one is able to produce understandable words. Even as adults we use gestures to provide representational information that complements our words; that way the other person has a broader insight of what we just present verbally. There’s even been studies that show that adults rely more on the communicator’s pointing gestures, than on their speech.
During her first years you’ll be amazed of how your little one goes from babbling to knowing how to participate in conversations. We’ve put together a talking timeline of what you can expect of your little one’s language process during this exciting time. This will give you a general idea of her progress. Remember every baby is different and develops at his or her own pace. It’s perfectly normal if your little one reaches these stages a little early or a little late.
We’ve previously talked about what you can do to enhance your child’s language development and about findings of how the way you interact with your child makes a difference.
Another recent study by Pediatrics found that the window between 18 and 24 months is crucial when it comes to language development. Children 18-24 months who were engaged in conversations had higher scores in IQ, verbal comprehension, expressive and receptive language, and cognition skills 10 years later during their school years. With these findings, the authors emphasized the need for parents to create an early language environment for their children.
Learning to read is a key skill for children and, believe it or not, they start practicing it since very early on. But what is literacy? It’s not only the ability to read, but also to write and learn. It includes comprehension and spelling. There are many skills and experiences that happen since birth that will make up the building blocks for a baby to be able to read later on. So, before being able to read, your little one will acquire listening skills to understand sound patterns when you sing, rhyme, and talk to her; she will develop her visual recognition, and will learn to associate what she hears with what she sees when you read books to her and show her pictures.
Doing these activities is very relevant for future language development and literacy skills. Thus, literacy doesn’t begin at preschool or when your child starts learning the letters, but at home with you and with all the loving and caring interactions that happen between you two. So, what can you do at each stage to promote literacy skills? Continue reading
We’ve already talked about how important routines are for our babies and kids and that they provide a sense of safety and predictability. But how exactly do routines help our children and why are they so helpful for them?
1) They foster the development of self-control
Knowing what comes next gives children security and emotional stability, making them feel more in control. For example, knowing that every day dinner-time comes after playing, will allow your little one to play, explore, and learn without worrying, and when it’s time for dinner she’ll be expecting it.
2) They promote positive behavior
Routines are like a set of steps that guide children towards certain goals. This can help to ensure children’s safety and help them learn responsible behaviors. For example, to always hold your hand when walking in the street or to say “please” when asking for something she wants.
1-2 Year Old Tasks:
- Read in Theme: One of the easiest ways to expose your little one to the winter theme is to read together about it. It’s best to start with touch & feel books, so that it is more interactive for your tiny friend. You can teach your child all about winter weather, winter clothes, winter animals, and winter activities by simply cuddling up with a great book! My favorites are Winter by Bright Baby Touch & Feel and Baby Loves Winter.
- Have a Wintry Bath: Bath time is a wonderful time to incorporate the winter theme. You can build an igloo with bubbles, color the water blue with bath drops, bring winter animals into the tub, or even place an ice cube or two inside and chat about cold vs. warm. Kids learn best from multisensory experiences, so take advantage or this!
- Color Color Color: Coloring pages are often overlooked in this digital age, but they shouldn’t be! Most kids who are exposed to coloring from a young age find it to be a calming and enriching activity. There are a million winter themed coloring pages that you can print out and work on with your little one. It is a perfect indoor activity for those chilly days when it’s best to just stay inside.
2-3 Year Old Tasks:
- Bake: Baking is an awesome winter activity that is sure to boost language! Baking involves following directions, learning new vocabulary, working together, patience, and of course an edible reward. Baking is a great indoor activity for those too-cold days, but you can also bake in theme. You can make winter themed cookies, snowy cupcakes, or hot chocolate brownies.
- Bring The Snow Inside: Who says snow has to stay outside? Kids love sensory bins and snow is the perfect medium! You can pack up some snow in a clear container and bring it inside to continue the fun. You can add some color to your snow, make snow cones, bring winter animals into the bin, or grab trucks that can dig in the snow. Your little one will love this task and clean-up will be a breeze for you!
- Get Crafty: You can make wintry crafts with your little one using as few as two materials. Luckily the winter aesthetic is as easy as cotton balls and glue! Whether you make snowballs, a snowman, an igloo, or a polar bear, your craft will be equal parts adorable and simple.
3-4 Year Old Tasks:
- Talk About Your Snowman: Every winter you make a snowman, but do you ever talk about him? Try expanding this activity by asking your little one why he needs eyes or a nose? What does his scarf do? Are all three snowballs the same size? Building a snowman can be an incredibly speechy activity if you take a few more minutes to chat.
- Make Your Own Snow: There are a few different home recipes for faux snow, but my favorite is baking soda and shaving cream. You can play with your fake snow on a tray or in a sensory bin (i.e. clear container) for easy clean up. I like to bring the little ones into the bin and have them ice skate, build snowmen, make snowballs or igloos. Use what is motivating for your little one and follow her lead. Build upon her pretend play and narration of the activity.
- Animal Sort: Animal sorting is a fun game for any season! You can use figurines, stickers, or coloring pages depending on what you have on hand. Depending on your child’s level you can sort 2-4 types of animals. You could do winter animals vs. summer animals, or ocean vs. snow vs. grass vs. home animals. Animal activities are great for boosting language because there is so much to talk about (i.e. Where do they live? What do they sound like? What do they feel like? What do they eat? etc.)
Molly Dresner is a Speech Language Pathologist based in New York City.
She recently authored The Speech Teacher’s Handbook, an engaging parent guide that includes practical and easy-to-follow tips and activities to help you help your little one!
- 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.)
- 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!
New research from MIT supports the idea that to foster children’s development, specifically their 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 than the day to day interactions between a baby and a loved one.