Pattern recognition: The key to language development

A study from the University of Sydney and the Australian National University found that children’s language development is linked to their ability to recognize patterns in their environment. In other words, children who were better at identifying visual patterns had a better grasp on grammar.

The studied 68 children, between 6 and 8 years old, and assessed them on two separate tasks: grammatical knowledge and visual pattern learning. Researchers found a strong connection between children who were able to identify patterns in a cartoon sequence on a computer and those who scored higher on the grammar test.

This proves that children have an amazing learning capacity. Without being consciously aware of it, their brains are continuously absorbing and calculating patterns or statistics. In the case of language development, they analyze which words follow others regularly, the context in which they are used, etc. This study is important because it lays the groundwork for understanding language development and grammar as a learnt skill, not something we are born with. This explains why children acquire language at different rates.

There are a lot of simple everyday things that you can do at home to help your little one learn to identify patterns. For example, when you dress him for the day, notice the patterns on his clothes: “You’re wearing stripes today!”. You can also create a pattern while walking: “Step. Step. Stop. Step. Step. Stop”. Have your little one make his own patterns using different materials like playdough, crayons or even cereal!

Patterns are all around us. Get in the habit of pointing them out to your little one and soon he will be finding them by himself! This will in turn boost his language development.

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