How gestures impact your child’s learning process

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.

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Your baby’s talking timeline

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.

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Teaching my child number concepts

Mathematic concepts in young children emerge from the play experiences they have every day. At first, as your baby learns to dance to a song’s beat, you can introduce numbers in songs and rhymes. You can also start by counting small sets of numbers and repeat them to her: “How many balls are there? One, two. We have two balls”.

Around her second birthday, your daughter will start learning about the different body parts and their functions. This will be the perfect opportunity to introduce numbers. “How many hands do you have?”, “Do we have one or two ears?”. At first, she might assign “two” to any collection of objects such as two fingers in each hand or two noses. With practice she’ll expand her understanding and assign the correct language label to objects. She’ll start identifying the difference between one, two, and many.

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Hand preference and language skills

We’ve previously talked about your child’s fine motor skills during the first years. At this stage a question might arise “Which hand is my child going to write with?”. Hand preference or dominance is a set of complex developmental processes that begin before birth and expand during the early infancy. For most children hand preference emerges between 2 and 4 years of age. Every child develops at his own pace, so there’s always some that will show preference before or after that.

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From big to small muscles

Your little one’s physical development is divided in gross and fine motor skills. The first involves big muscles and large body movements like running, climbing, and jumping. Fine motor skills involve small muscles and precise movements; manipulating objects, coloring, or cutting are some activities in which your child promotes his fine motor development.

Physical milestones are more noticeable when your child starts crawling, scribbling, and walking; but ever since he was born, he’s been on the path of conquering multiple motor milestones. His big muscles allowed him to support his own head, sit down, roll over and soon enough crawl everywhere. As he gained large muscle control over his arms, he was able to use smaller muscles to reach for objects, manipulate small toys, and, later, grab a crayon.

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Object manipulation: Learning how the world works PART 2

In the first part of this article we discussed the importance of object manipulation and some things you can do to foster it. As you provide more opportunities for your child to know the external world and learn how objects work, you’ll also foster the acquisition of abilities relevant to other areas of his development, specially his language, social interactions, and communication.

Research shows that object manipulation via movements, such as reaching and grasping, generates a foundation for later development of language, communication, and gestural skills. Object mouthing during vocalization stages has been linked to a greater variety of consonants. A strong positive correlation has also been found between object manipulation such as banging and squeezing at 4 months of age and later vocabulary skills at 12 months. Researchers believe that if your child is frequently engaging in the exploration and manipulation of objects, he’ll increase the opportunities of extracting information of its categories; something essential for his lexical development.

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What makes a child shy?

We all know that each person has a different personality, and that some are more sociable and others more shy. We even notice these qualities in children and babies! But what makes a child shy?

Of course, temperament plays a role. Temperament is the innate part of a person’s personality, one that is apparent and not likely to change much throughout life. Thus, someone’s temperament can make him or her more or less likely to be shy and avoid social situations. However, not everything is set on stone, temperament can be slightly modified by experiences and interactions, especially during the early years. Continue reading

Object manipulation: Learning how the world works PART 1

As your little one conquers new milestones, he’ll learn how to manipulate objects. Manipulative skills involve using an object to complete a task. It is a very important milestone in your child’s development; it is through this functional play and experiences that he is able to experience the world and understand how it works.

In the early stages you might see your baby’s manipulative skills when he reaches and grabs a rattle. He’ll later learn how to take a building block with the palm and move certain fingers, separating them, to be able to rotate or stack it. He’ll become so good at constructive play that he’ll start grasping smaller objects. As he masters the pincer grasp, you’ll see how he picks very small objects with just his thumb and index finger, and loves playing with arts and crafts. He’ll become a pro at manipulating objects and he’ll acquire bilateral skills as he uses both hands for different things. For example, when cutting a sheet of paper, one hand will use the scissors while the other holds the piece of paper.

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Fine motor skills: The art of scribbling and writing PART 2

As we mentioned in PART 1 of this article, scribbling is one of the first steps your little one takes to understand writing and language. What started as random whole-arm movements has turned into fine traces of shapes and objects. At around 34 months your daughter will start holding the crayon or marker in a more mature way, finding her pencil grip for writing. She’ll start planning beforehand what she wants to create in her drawings, and she’ll love copying and tracing shapes using different art materials and specific colors. As she broadens her repertoire of experiences, she’ll start learning more about the specific parts of written language.

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Fine motor skills: The art of scribbling and writing PART 1

Scribbling is one of the first steps your little one takes to understand writing and language. Educational Research and Reviews journal mentions that random scribbles are followed by controlled movements and that all scribbling behaviors before age 5 are indispensable for the reading and writing readiness of children. With every scribble your little one fosters her hand and finger control, thinking skills, and overall understanding of language. At first, she’ll be astonished by what these things called crayons can do. As she discovers the link between her hand movements and the line on the piece of paper, she’ll start experimenting with the symbolization of her marks and increase the control she has over her muscles. The experiences your little one has during these months are crucial for the development of her fine motor abilities; she’ll learn about the complexity of how to hold a crayon and control the amount of force, pressure, and speed she uses when drawing.

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