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Pushy Parenting or PURE Genius?

June 22, 2013 3 min read

About 33% of children arrive at school without the necessary tools to properly interact and communicate. Researchers at Bristol University conducted a study that looked into the significance of a child's environment prior to age 2 and how it affects their language. They discovered that children whose parents chatted with them often scored much higher in tests of reading, language and math upon beginning school. Some educators feel that this severely impacts their education, and eventually, their overall success in life. Studies show that teenagers with subpar literary skills are more likely to become young offenders. Writer Tracey Blake teamed up with speech therapist friend Nicola Lathey to write, Small Talk: Simple Ways To Boost Your Child's Speech And Language Skills From Birth. Blake, whose daughter has been speaking in full sentences since she was 18 months, can now carry on a full conversation at 3 ½. She aptly uses tenses, and has mastered the finer art of narration. This in a world where some 3 year olds are hardly talking at all. Small Talk encourages parents to speak with their children as soon as possible. Even in utero. Babies can recognize their mother’s voice between 24-27 weeks in the womb. At first, this may seem a little overzealous. We mean, let kids be kids, right? All children develop differently. Some are speaking in full sentences by 18 months, like Blake’s daughter, and others don’t utter a single word until they are 3 or 4 or even later. (Einstein didn’t speak until he was 5 years old.) Here’s the thing: Small Talk doesn’t encourage parents to put their babies through bootcamp language training. It offers simple and comprehensive suggestions to help effortlessly lead your children into a loving lifetime relationship with words. Most parents are already employing a lot of these approaches, and some may be using a variation of the technique. Here are some of the ways Small Talk suggests you help ease your baby into language:

Say What You See

Narrate what your child is doing. So if your son is honking the horn in his play car, say, “Ben is honking the horn! Honk, honk!”, instead of, “Ben, drive over here to me”. This way he will be more likely to link the action he is doing with the words.

Speak Clearly

Make sure you use simple words, and don’t worry too much about using full sentences or correct grammar. Just try to get the key meaning across using as many clear, simple words as possible.

Be Consistent

As Blake says, there are a lot of different ways to ask if your child wants a drink. Are you thirsty? Do you want some juice? Try to pick one word or simple phrase to communicate an idea, like “Drink? Ben’s drink?”

Repeat!

You’re going to have to use persistence here. You child is not going to pick up on a word right away, but by pointing to the object and saying the word every time you encounter it (e.g. tree, horse, ball), you’ll help your him/her understand what the object is and also how to make the sound.

10 Minutes, Every Day

It shouldn’t sound like much, because it’s not. Studies show you should spend at least 10 minutes a day talking to your child, and spending time with him or her. More is obviously better.

Have FUN!

Reading and talking to your child shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should be fun, like play!

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