Talk­ing to baby might boost suc­cess in mid­dle school

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

TIME spent read­ing to tod­dlers or hav­ing “con­ver­sa­tions” with them helps boost their in­tel­li­gence and think­ing skills, even a decade later, new re­search shows. The study found that the more “con­ver­sa­tional turns” that oc­curred in a tod­dler’s day, the bet­ter chil­dren per­formed on tests that mea­sure IQ, lan­guage skills and think­ing skills in mid­dle school. A con­ver­sa­tional turn is when a par­ent or care­giver talks and a child re­sponds or vice versa. And the study’s lead au­thor, Jill Gilk­er­son, said it doesn’t mat­ter if the child is us­ing real words. What mat­ters is that they have a chance to re­spond.

“Par­ents need to be aware of the im­por­tance of in­ter­act­ing with chil­dren who are very young and not neces- sar­ily even talk­ing. The more in­ter­ac­tion, the bet­ter,” said Gilk­er­son, di­rec­tor of child lan­guage re­search at the LENA Foun­da­tion in Boul­der, Colorado. Decades of stud­ies have linked early ex­po­sure to lan­guage and de­vel­op­men­tal out­comes. But most re­search has fo­cused on younger kids, Gilk­er­son said. She and her team wanted to see if early in­ter­ac­tive talk­ing would have an im­pact on kids in mid­dle school.

The ini­tial phase of the study be­gan in 2006. Al­most 150 fam­i­lies from the Den­ver area were re­cruited when the chil­dren were be­tween two months and 36 months old. Us­ing lan­guage anal­y­sis soft­ware, Gilk­er­son’s team was able to cap­ture adult words, child vo­cal­i­sa­tions and turn-tak­ing in­ter­ac­tions through­out the day. The soft­ware recorded 12 hours of ac­tiv­ity one day a month for six months. When the chil­dren were nine to 14 years old, the re­searchers tested the kids’ lan­guage and think­ing skills.

The study found that con­ver­sa­tional turn counts that hap­pened when chil­dren were be­tween 18 months and 24 months old ac­counted for 14 per cent to 27 per cent of the dif­fer­ences in IQ, lan­guage skills and think­ing skills. Gilk­er­son said the 18- to 24-month pe­riod was “most pre­dic­tive of longer-term out­comes.” How­ever, she added that the study wasn’t de­signed to tease out ex­actly why that’s so. It’s def­i­nitely an im­por­tant time in a tod­dler’s de­vel­op­ment, she said. “A lot of spe­cific de­vel­op­men­tal changes oc­cur at this time. They’re adding a lot of vo­cab­u­lary and putting words to­gether to form sen­tences,” she ex­plained.

Wil­liam Bryson-Brock­mann, chief of de­vel­op­men­tal and be­havioural pae­di­atrics at NYU Winthrop Hos­pi­tal in Mi­ne­ola, New York, agreed the 18- to 24-month pe­riod is a crit­i­cal time for de­vel­op­ment. “That’s when kids re­ally start to de­velop lan­guage,” he said. Bryson-Brock­mann wasn’t in­volved in the cur­rent re­search, but said the find­ings build on what’s al­ready known about lan­guage de­vel­op­ment. He also said it was im­pres­sive to see that fam­ily in­come didn’t mat­ter. “If you talk more to your kid and do more con­ver­sa­tional turn-tak­ing, there’s a strong cor­re­la­tion be­tween that and later IQ, lan­guage skills and think­ing skills,” he said.

“Talk­ing and read­ing to your chil­dren is re­ally im­por­tant, and it makes a dif­fer­ence when they’re in mid­dle school,” he added. Both ex­perts highly rec­om­mended read­ing to chil­dren. “If you’re read­ing, you’re prob­a­bly go­ing back and forth with your kids con­ver­sa­tion­ally. A book gives you some­thing to do with them. Have fun with your kids,” Bryson-Brock­mann said. Gilk­er­son said par­ents can also talk about what’s around them. She said to fol­low the child’s lead. “No­tice what they’re in­ter­ested in and go with that. It will nat­u­rally en­gage them in lan­guage,” she sug­gested. It’s also im­por­tant for child-care providers to try to pro­vide con­ver­sa­tional turn op­por­tu­ni­ties, Gilk­er­son said. The study find­ings were pub­lished on­line in Pe­di­atrics.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.