Sunday, February 22, 2009

Talk more and gesture more

Don't just talk to your toddler — gesture, too. Pointing, waving bye-bye and other natural gestures seem to boost a budding vocabulary. Scientists found those tots who could convey more meaning with gestures at age 14 months went on to have a richer vocabulary as they prepared to start kindergarten. And intriguingly, whether a family is poor or middle class plays a role.

Anyone who's ever watched a tot perform the arms-raised "pick me up now" demand knows that youngsters figure out how to communicate well before they can talk. Gesturing also seems to be an important precursor to forming sentences, as children start combining one word plus a gesture for a second word.

University of Chicago researchers wondered if gesturing also played a role in a serious problem: Children from low-income families start school with smaller vocabularies than their better-off classmates. It's a gap that tends to persist as the students age. In fact, kindergarten vocabulary is a predicter of how well youngsters ultimately fare in school.

One big key to a child's vocabulary is how their parents talked to them from babyhood on. Previous research has shown that higher-income, better-educated parents tend to talk and read more to small children, and to use more varied vocabulary and complex syntax.

It's not just that richer parents gesture more, stressed Peggy McCardle of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the work.

"It's that there's a greater variety of types of gesture that would signal different types of meaning," McCardle said. "It sure looks like the kids are learning that and it's given them kind of a leg-up."

Whatever the parents income maybe, I believe don't ever let money become the stumbling block for our child well development. We just gotto find other creative ways to do it.......so talk more and gesture more.

No comments: