Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stop Typing, Start Talking

Take a look around you the next time you're in a mall, on the street, at the zoo or park, or anywhere where you can see a mother with her child. Is she talking to him/her or is she busy on the phone texting/emailing? Technology has its downfalls and teaching communication to our children could be one of them.

Infants learn speech by hearing it, so parents should be sure to talk to their children as much as possible. Identify objects, point out colors, animals, and expose them to a second language. Even if they aren't able to talk back to you yet, those babies are like little sponges, soaking up the information (well, it seeps in anyway). The point here is to try to stop the texts and emails on our Blackberries and iPhones and to remember to talk to your infants. Plus, you're enriching their cognition, and who doesn't want a smart kid?

This is also important, as we know that our ability to acquire new languages is best at very young ages and declines rapidly around puberty. See Steven Pinker's book, The Language Instinct, for more information on that. Also, read about Noam Chomsky, one of the fathers of linguistics. So, teach your children as much vocabulary as you can early and expose them to other languages early. Second-language exposure in junior high is too late for a child to be able to speak with phonetic "nativity."

Finally, to increase communication with your child, try teaching them sign language at a very young age, before they are able to talk. My sister-in-law did this with her children before they could communicate with her verbally and sure enough, the screaming outbursts of frustration were reduced, and the kids communicated more easily with her when wanting "more" or when they were "tired." Not only does communication then increase, but it's suggested they have an increase in cognition, early literacy, and spatial reasoning.

So, start talking to your kids and create some little Einsteins and Beethovens...or Chomskys.