Researchers at the University of North Carolina's Frank Porter Graham Chihld Development Insitute says a study shows how early childhood educators can ignite the growth of
language and communication skills in infants and toddlers. Nicole Gardner-Neblett and Kathleen Cranley Gallagher published the research-based recommendations online.
principal investigator for the FPG study, said: "Early language and communication skills
are crucial for a child's success in school and beyond.
“Children who develop strong language
and communication skills are more likely to arrive at school ready to learn and
are more likely to have higher levels of achievement.”
She said during the
first years of life, children’s brains were developing rapidly, laying the
foundation for learning.
interactions children have with adults influence early brain growth and
learning, giving early childhood educators a crucial opportunity to provide
children with interactions that can support language and communication.
Language and communication skills include a
child’s ability to express himself or herself through words, gestures or
facial expressions, as well as the capacity to understand others.
Co-principal investigator Kathleen Gallagher
said that when teachers provide children with higher levels of language
stimulation during the first years of life, children in turn have better
“When teachers ask children questions, respond to their
vocalisations and engage in other positive talk, children learn and use more
words,” said Gallagher.
The FPG researchers said that many early
child care educators can do more to actively engage children and facilitate the
development of language and communication.
“More high-quality language
interactions between children and adults will provide children with the kinds
of experiences that can foster their growth,” said Gardner-Neblett.
Gardner-Neblett and Gallagher reviewed the current science and then streamlined
their findings into 10 recommended practices.
More than Baby Talk: 10 ways to promote the language and communication skills of infants and toddles recommends one-on-one and small-group interactions that are tried and tested to support the
development of language and communication in infants and toddlers from a
variety of backgrounds.
Among the FPG team’s recommended
interactions are responding to children’s vocalisations and speech, eliciting
conversations and using complex grammar and a rich vocabulary.
includes the science that supports it and examples of how to use it.
The “Get Chatty” recommendation, for
instance, suggests commenting on routines like hand-washing, as they
occur: “We are washing our hands. We are
making lots of big bubbles.” Educators
also can use longer sentences, draw connections between children’s lives and
books and use songs to tell stories.
Infants and toddlers
Gardner-Neblett and Gallagher said that
many of the practices work well in combination with one another and early childhood educators should keep in mind children develop differently
and at varying rates.
In addition, while educators play key
roles, they are not the only group that can make a marked difference for
infants and toddlers.
“We think parents could use these same
practices with their young children,” said Gardner-Neblett.
“By using these
strategies at home, parents can provide children with the rich language
exposure and opportunities they need to enhance their language and
communication, helping them to achieve in preschool and beyond.”
(Picture: Teacher and a child from Shutterstock)