Category Archives: Linguistic

Choosing the right books for your little one!

Taking a couple of minutes a day to read with your baby will dramatically increase her language skills. Not only that, but reading time is a great bonding activity that will strengthen the emotional ties between you and your little one. Plus, adding reading to your daily routine will increase the odds of your child enjoying reading in the future and becoming a reader herself.It’s important to find the right book, keeping in mind that it fits your child’s interests, maturity, and reading level. Here are some basic things to look out for.

Infants and toddlers (birth – age 2)

  • Look for books with big and colorful pictures of familiar objects.
  • They should be written in short, simple sentences, and may include rhymes that are fun to read aloud and easy for your little one to eventually imitate.
  • Go for thick cardboard, plastic, or cloth books. These are usually perfect for small children to handle and experiment with (and they’ll survive it because they can easily be wiped clean).
  • Think tactile. Stimulate your child’s senses with books with different textures or scents.
  • Find stories about everyday life and events like bedtime, baths, or mealtime, especially if they’re illustrated with photos of children who are your child’s age or a bit older.
  • Stories that review basic concepts like colors, shapes, letters, and numbers are always good to have around.
  • Finally, think about your child’s passions and look for books about them! What plots will she enjoy the most?

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The best way to read with your 1-year-old

In previous blog posts we have highlighted the importance of making a habit out of reading to your baby every day, bringing special one-on-one quality time that strengthens your bond. Depending on your baby’s age, you can focus on different aspects of the reading experience, but what’s the best way to share books with a one-year-old?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a literacy toolkit that includes great tips for parents and caregivers who wish to make the most out of reading time! This blog post will summarize a few key points about reading with a one-year-old throughout three stages: 12–14 months, 15–17 months, and 18–24 months. Within each age range, you’ll find examples of what your child can do and what you can do to maximize the reading experience! Continue reading

Reading with your baby: 0-11 months

Reading to your baby is very beneficial. Reading every day helps build a healthy parent-child relationship, because it’s an opportunity for one-on-one interaction. Kids who are read to every day have stronger language skills when they reach kindergarten, and are therefore more prepared to learn how to read. You can read more about the importance of reading to your baby on our previous blog post.

It might seem strange to think that your one-month-old is actually learning or absorbing something of the reading time, but he does! Depending on your baby’s age, you can focus on different aspects of the reading experience, to make sure that he gets the most out of it! Continue reading

Coping with tantrums and anger through books

It’s quite common for toddlers to throw tantrums –we can all agree with that! From kicking and screaming to breath holding, they are common from ages 1 to 3 and equally common among girls and boys. What we need to understand is that tantrums are a way for children to express their feelings and frustration, since they are not able to communicate with words yet! The most important thing is that you, the adult, set a good example and remain calm during those stressful moments.

Along with tantrums, come other tough behaviors like biting, scratching or hitting. They are all a way for toddlers to get attention or express their strong emotions like anger, fear, and frustration. Lacking the language skills needed to deal with them, they resort to those behaviors as a way of saying “Pay attention to me!” or “I don’t like that!”. Here are a few things you can do when faced with these situations. Continue reading

Raising a reader!

An increasing number of studies show that promoting reading can have a great impact on children and their future. Among the benefits of reading for pleasure you have that literacy skills, vocabulary, and general knowledge increase, as well as the self-confidence and community participation.There are many things parents can do to promote reading and raise a happy reader! It’s pretty simple, really. It all starts with you, the parents! Research shows that reading books to your little one is the most important thing you can do to prepare him for reading and learning.

But why limit yourself to simply reading words off a page? Why not take it one –or a few– steps further? Here are a few simple tips and tricks that will certainly help you on your way to raising a reader! Continue reading

Impact of gestures in language development

People all over the world, from different backgrounds and cultures use hand gestures when they speak. Hand movements are so natural and prevalent among cultures that researchers from different fields, like linguistics and neuroscience, have studied gestures to look for insights about language development. It might seem funny to think that gestures are important for language development, but just imagine this scene for a second: trying to explain to your kids how to tie their shoelaces or how tall a building is in comparison to another without using hand gestures. It would be pretty difficult, wouldn’t it? It’s such a simple action, but so hard to explain without moving your hands.

Hand gestures are part of the way we communicate, especially with children, and it’s how they develop their language skills. Children use their hands to communicate with others very early on. They point to the things they want. They know what they want to say, but they can’t say it with words yet. Continue reading

Teach self-control through books!

Reading to your child for a few minutes everyday is extremely beneficial for her brain development, language skills, and social skills! Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged pediatricians to constantly remind patients about this!

Books can become useful tools that help your child identify and make sense of feelings, and they help parents teach children how to deal with difficult emotions and situations. Many times, books simply offer an easy and productive way to teach children about things like friendship, diversity, and self-control –a fundamental ability.

It is well known that self-control is very important for a child to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Self-control is the ability to stop and think before acting –maintaining composure in challenging situations. Therefore, to have self-control you must be aware of your own thoughts and emotions. For parents, teaching self-control becomes a priority, and it is an ability that requires practice to be learned. However, you should keep in mind that babies’ and toddlers’ prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain associated with self-regulation and control) is not fully developed; therefore, it is not reasonable to expect a kid to have self-control like an adult does. If your child is very young, she will have trouble effectively controlling emotions, thoughts, and actions –and that’s completely normal! That’s why you need to establish limits according to her developmental stage.

Books can be a great way to talk to your little one about self-control! She will learn through the different characters and situations in the stories, and talking about it afterwards can help her compare and relate them to real life. Have you been introduced to Leslie Patricelli’s books? They are a must -very fun, light, and great for learning about self-control! Look out for these: Continue reading

The go-to tool to teach emotional intelligence

Books can be effective tools to help your child identify different emotions and learn how to cope with complex feelings.

The first years of your child’s life are normally an incredibly happy time for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that he does not experience other feelings. Current research suggests that a baby is born with around nine different emotions: interest, enjoyment, surprise, distress, anger, fear, shame, disgust, and dissmell. Over time, those feelings are combine with each other and with experiences to form more complex ones. At times, babies and toddlers have trouble expressing more difficult feelings and, as they grow, they have to cope with anger and fears. Those feelings can stem from challenging experiences, like moving to a new home, losing a loved one, or having a new sibling join the family. These changes often cause confusion.

As a parent, it’s tough to not be able to understand how your child is feeling –after all, he is not able to put into words what he is going through. That causes frustration. Imagine not being able to explain or even understand what you are feeling! Books can be useful tools to help your child identify and make sense of those feelings, and they help parents teach their children how to deal with difficult feelings and situations. There are a lot of great books out there that were designed to help babies and toddlers begin to distinguish between different emotions. Reading them, and then talking about them together will certainly help!

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Reading to your baby – Why the American Academy of Pediatrics urges it!

In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement asking pediatricians to talk to parents about the numerous benefits of reading aloud with their children, and how critical it is for their brain development, language skills, and social skills. Dr. Pamela High, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, was the lead author on the new statement. She says that reading to your child everyday helps build a healthy parent-child relationship, because it’s an opportunity for one-on-one interactions. Kids who are read to everyday have stronger language skills when they reach kindergarten, and are therefore more prepared to learn how to read. That then predicts that those kids are more likely to graduate from high school.
So, reading to your child is extremely important! If you are not already doing it, start forming the habit today! You might wonder what babies think when they look at books. Although a baby doesn’t understand what the pictures or words mean, at around four months he or she is able to focus on them. Staring at pictures is one of the initial steps in picture recognition, a key skill that leads to comprehending the meaning of pictures and words. Babies will gaze at a picture for several moments and show clear interest in its colors and shapes; kids are drawn to brightly colored pages. It is very common for babies to show preference for a particular page of a book by staring at it longer than other pages. Early experiences with books will familiarize your child with them and create interest in reading, so it’s never too early to start.

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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 child’s language development. That’s why 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, 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 kids are not only expected, but are also essential to avoid developmental delays or a negative impact on their future well-being. The quality of the child’s environment and the availability of enriching experiences early on will be critical in determining the strength of her future brain architecture.

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