Updated: Dec 16, 2020
The #1 thing you can do for your child’s brain...
Talking is the single most important thing you can do for your child’s brain. Regular conversation is the message of Dr. Dana Suskind, founder of the Thirty Million Words Initiative at the university of Chicago.
It might seem simple, but the result is profound. A landmark study in 1995 found that in the first 3 years of life, some children were exposed to 30 million more word than others.
When these children entered primary school, they had a measurable advantage with bigger vocabularies and better reading skills. All of this translates to a positive early school experience which results in a more rewarding relationship with learning.
Language is what helps our brains develop to their potential and early exposure to language affects the way language networks are built in the brain. A child’s metal processing speed is shaped through rich engagement to language. The processing speed in the brain matters because it affects a broad range of cognitive skills, such as memory recall and problem solving.
As parents, whanau, and early childhood teachers we can have a profound impact on a child’s future. Talking to our babies is something we can all do and has a remarkable effect on their brain. At Tiny Stars we focus on open ended questions, song and books as a way to encourage conversation with the tamariki.
The Thirty Million Words initiative focuses on the Three T’s:
There is a natural progression from talking to our child to reading to our child.
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioural Pediatrics, found that children who are read to just once a day are exposed to around 78,000 words each year. Over five years, this adds up to 1.4 million words heard during story time. That’s just one book a day and does not take into account the conversations and questions we should be engaging in with our child at any opportunity.
“If all parents, everywhere,” writes Suskind, “understood that a word spoken to a young child is not simply a word but a building block for that child’s brain, nurturing a stable, empathetic, intelligent adult, and had the support to make it happen, what a different world this would be.”