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Daily verbal interactions

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2 Daily verbal interactions
Really make a meaningful difference in language development The average three-year-old has heard 20 million words Three year olds from very talkative, socially interactive families have heard 35 million words Three year olds of uncommunicative families have heard less than 10 million words From Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children by Betty Hart, Ph.D., & Todd R. Risley, Ph.D.

3 Vocabulary size Greatly influenced by familial styles of talking and interacting with babies The average child has about a 700 word vocabulary by the age of three Children of very sociable families have a vocabulary of about 1,100 words Children of uncommunicative, non-reactive families have only about a 500 word vocabulary

4 15,000 hours of learning time From birth to age three, children have roughly 15,000 hours of learning opportunity Whether these hours are filled with language, or left empty, makes an extraordinary difference to children’s development

5 Beyond “business talk”
The more you talk, the higher the quality of the language Quantity results in quality All parents engage in “business talk” — imparting necessary information such as “get down from there,” or “don’t do that.” If you don’t talk much, this terse business talk is the only language children are exposed to Talk more — that’s when children are exposed to complex and rich communication

6 Richer language environment
Mainly determined by the amount of talking parents are doing with baby The interaction with adult caregivers is the most important part of baby’s world The amount of interaction makes the environment richer You don’t have to worry about how to talk to your baby Just talk a lot

7 Video Encouraging Young Storytellers Dr. Debra Jervay Pendergrass
Silver Spring, Maryland Dr. Debra Jervay Pendergrass Co-Director, STORIES In this preschool, caregivers carefully monitor and use everyday conversation to improve children’s oral language skills For more information, see Something Happened! Sharing Life Stories From Birth to Three

8 Children pay attention to words
From the beginning Talking has an impact from the very beginning It’s important to talk to infants, newborns, and toddlers The important variable is filling the child’s life up with words and language — associating words with everything the child is involved in Babies are tuned-in really early — even before birth For example, if you sing songs or say poems prenatally, babies will recognize the cadence, the rhythm, and the sounds after they are born

9 Provide “color commentary”
Just as sports announcers do Talk about what you’re doing, what you see, what’s going on To the baby, it’s all engagement with the world and people around them Listening and learning contribute to language development

10 Interaction is key Young children watch your language
They see your eyes light up They watch your mouth It’s a “dance” In addition to vocabulary, they’re learning the rewards of social interaction

11 Interaction is key (cont.)
Babies don’t learn very much from a distance. They learn very little from watching words on TV or listening to the radio, for example Children are immersed in the family “culture of communication” (i.e., talking a lot or a little), and learn from it

12 Non-verbal component to language
Beyond vocabulary, children are learning how to be social beings by listening to talk From listening, being talked to, and observing, children learn about: Emotions The social context that goes with words Interactions in the family and the larger world

13 Assigning meanings to words
Fast mapping — children hear a word and use the context of an activity, an object, or a person to map meaning on to it For example, if a child’s first exposure to an animal is a dog, from that point forward, every four-legged animal with a tail and two ears is a dog Over time, children refine those definitions For example, they learn to differentiate that cows also have four legs, but they make a different sound and they give milk

14 Assigning meanings to words (cont.)
Children who have world experience from interactions, creative play, or book reading are the ones who are best able to refine word definitions Exposure to an animal in a book or at the zoo gives them a greater understanding of the definition Teaching children the sounds that animals make is not just a game; it is the process of refinement for a young child Play is work for a child

15 Fast mapping pitfall Rather than initially asking for the definition, teachers should define the word you want children to know from the very start and allow children to map on to the correct meaning Too often, children will provide a wrong definition, and their peers might “fast map” on the erroneous meaning The teacher must un-teach the incorrect things Make sure to place correct definitions that children must learn in the beginning

16 Children love words Saying words is a pleasant feeling
Making new sounds is fun for little children Children can often pronounce words that are difficult for us as adults They like multi-syllable words Try teaching young children sophisticated words

17 What uncommunicative families should know
You don’t need to talk differently to your child You just need to talk more! You already know how — tap into that upbeat feeling and chit-chat, play, comment, and even gossip with baby Make those who were raised in uncommunicative families change their way of communication Encourage them to interact in more “play talk”

18 What uncommunicative families should know (cont.)
Don’t worry about what it is you’re saying — talk a lot Extend talk beyond limited “business talk” With babies, just talking will automatically give you rich content Don’t worry about content until they’re older

19 Parents who are reluctant readers
“Perfect” reading is not the point — rather the interaction around the book is of paramount importance Professionals must provide models for what interaction looks like and what we’re asking parents to do. Show parents: that if you have a 30-page book and a three-year-old child, the point is turning the pages together, the story, the interaction, the talking, being involved with the child, not getting through all 30 pages that wordless picture books help babies learn, too how to tie books and book concepts to things that are important in their own family Children should feel that reading is a valuable and fun thing to do with parents

20 Seven learning essentials
Seven kinds of behaviors that parents, teachers, older siblings, and anyone who loves and cares about children should adopt These essentials have an effect on brain neurochemistry and increase intelligence, happiness, and a sense of well-being Encourage exploration Babies should learn through their senses (touch, taste, sound, smell, and vision) As they get older, they should learn through talking and demonstrating Children benefit from actively experiencing both familiar and new places and things

21 Seven learning essentials (cont.)
Mentor in basic skills Mentoring is teaching with love, with the well-being of the learner central to your activities Showing the what’s and when’s, and the in’s and out’s of how things work Mentoring activity: teach a child the difference between “up” and “down” and explain other opposites

22 Seven learning essentials (cont.)
Celebrate new skills Developmental advances for learning new skills, little and big, and for becoming a unique individual When you celebrate, you reinforce good behavior by linking positive feelings with your child’s behavior

23 Seven learning essentials (cont.)
Rehearse and extend skills “Practice time” Help children get good at what they’ve learned by practicing again and again, in the same and different ways, with new people and new things. Every behavior can be used in a more sophisticated way; it’s multipurpose. Protect from harsh and inappropriate treatment Shield the child from inappropriate disapproval, teasing, neglect or punishment, from a kind of harshness that’s not right for their age Don’t get mad at a child for something they don’t yet understand

24 Seven learning essentials (cont.)
Each learning essential affects different parts of the brain For example, celebration and feelings of happiness are reflected in changes in neurochemistry If a child is not exposed to certain sounds when they’re young, it’s difficult to acquire them later on An important window of opportunity for brain development has been missed

25 Seven learning essentials (cont.)
Provide rich language interactions Communicate richly and responsively with sounds, songs, gestures and words Children’s comprehension or understanding is much more advanced than their ability to say words

26 Seven learning essentials (cont.)
Provide rich language interactions Rich language is really engaging the child, through: “parentese”: highly engaging speech that captures the child’s attention silly talk mimicking games with sounds Interaction with rich language helps children realize that the sounds coming from them cause a response in the world

27 Seven learning essentials (cont.)
Guide and limit behavior This will keep the child safe and teach what’s acceptable and what’s not Socialization: learning the rules of being a cooperative, responsive, caring person This can help language development by helping children know when certain words or tones or volumes are appropriate (or inappropriate) For example, appropriate volumes in a movie theater versus on a playground

28 Late talkers By age three, most children are talking
If a child is lagging in speech development, the problem could stem from: a hearing problem a speech production problem other special needs a lack of experience with language Very often, late talkers haven’t had enough people talk to them in ways that can enhance their vocabulary

29 Perils of late talking More than half of children with language impairments, who are not developing language like their peers, will have reading problems later Reading is really “language on paper,” so a good oral foundation makes the transition to reading much easier for children Children’s early learning lays the foundation that you build on for later learning When that foundation is weak or nonexistent, teachers have to go back and think about a different starting point for those kids

30 Talkative and non-talkative children
Chatty children will seek out language interaction, so they will often get more exposure That doesn’t mean that less talkative children are not learning. Shy or quiet children can absorb a great deal. Children are like sponges, and can be quietly building a foundation for language and reading skills Talkativeness is useful, but there are other ways to learn, as well

31 Books help develop oral language
Reading is an excuse adults sometimes need in order to interact conversationally with babies Oral language development can come from: making up stories singing songs telling nursery rhymes reading and looking at books For more information, see the Calif. Preschool Instructional Network's Concepts About Print

32 Books help develop oral language (cont.)
Early concepts of print: how to turn the page books are filled with fun and adventure books are colorful and pretty books can be held and touched Books are integrated with the tradition of oral language For more information, see the California Preschool Instructional Network's Concepts About Print

33 Video Reading as Dialogue Dr. Russ Whitehurt Dr. Barbara Foorman
Patchogue, New York Dr. Russ Whitehurt Dr. Barbara Foorman U.S. Department of Education Florida Center for Reading Research Dialogic reading is a type of shared book reading that involves frequent verbal interactions. Here, we see how the technique works in a Head Start classroom. Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers

34 Speech and language problems
Speech problems Difficulty with the sound system, mis-articulation of words e.g. “fumb” instead of “thumb” Fluency problems Stuttering Language problems Vocabulary issues Difficulty with sentences Difficulty producing and comprehending language These problems are very common in a class of preschoolers

35 When are mistakes a cause for concern?
There are qualitative differences between a child who is experimenting with language and a child who is having problems Typical: saying “wabbit” rather than “rabbit” Atypical: talk that is unintelligible to adults familiar with the child

36 When are mistakes a cause for concern? (cont.)
Early language benchmarks At two, the child should be using two-word sentences, “Mommy, up!” At three, they should be stringing at least three words together, “Mommy, up please.” That works until kids are about five years old and they start doing things that are more complex

37 Stuttering versus disfluency
For young children, disfluency is common A case of “their mouth can’t keep up with their brain” can often appear to be stuttering It can happen when a child transitions from simple to more complex sentences When a child has a stutter, you can often see it physically Tension in their neck Blinking Physical effort to get the word out

38 Stuttering versus disfluency (cont.)
In both cases, adults must be patients and do not make the child feel bad or draw negative attention to it If it is a concern to you as a parent, talk to your teacher, pediatrician, or another professional

39 Dancing with words When parents talk to babies, they should not be asking them questions and expecting answers Rather, use: parallel talk: say what the child is doing thinking out loud describing and labeling things that you see, things that you do comment and pause: children love to take turns, so they step right in take multiple turns talking This input enhances a rich vocabulary

40 Children can change adults
When children have good experiences, they take it to other places If they are in a great child care setting where the teacher pays a lot of attention and does a lot of talking back and forth, that child will mirror the interaction at home The child can change an adult’s level of communication

41 Video Warning Signs Dr. Julie Washington
University of Michigan Dr. Julie Washington Wayne State University A speech-language deficit in early childhood can lead to a reading problem later on. From the moment they are born, kids sends signals to watch for: late talking; speech problems; hearing impairment; poor vocabulary; difficulty following directions; difficulty following routines; trouble interacting with peers; trouble remembering things they learned.

42 The connection between speaking and reading
To make sound / symbol connections — between spoken word and printed word — you have to be familiar with the sound Children who are having trouble producing sound will have great difficulty becoming phonologically aware

43 The connection between speaking and reading (cont.)
Broad oral vocabulary also helps children learn to read. Early readers check word “symbols” against a mental dictionary. If that dictionary is limited, reading is harder Vocabulary, word knowledge, and knowledge of concepts are the building blocks of reading that are provided by early talking

44 Late talkers Research in speech and language shows about 70 percent of late talkers will catch up It’s not clear yet which children will fall in to that 70 percent, and which will be in the 30 percent that will have long-term difficulties We really must pay attention to late talking A child who is not talking until they are three or four will be at a tremendous disadvantage when they start school and embark on learning to read

45 The role of speech-language pathologists
Reading is a language process, so speech-language pathologists are increasingly called up to help: in the classroom, rather than pulling children out class with all learners, not just those with strong special needs Areas in which SLPs provide assistance: vocabulary-building activities book reading research in the classroom dialogic book reading determining a child’s ‘language age’ as opposed to ‘chronological age’

46 Effective early childhood education
Not just a recasting of a first-grade curriculum for younger children Play and fun do not preclude building a strong foundation for school success Children can and do play and learn simultaneously When creating an effective program for young children, it’s important to set expectations high, and understand what learning means for very young children

47 The achievement gap It’s been around a long time and is a multifaceted issue We must have an expectation that all children will learn, regardless of background Some inequality happens long before children get to school

48 The achievement gap (cont.)
Closing or even avoiding the gap should start at the very beginning — at the “babbling” in infancy Studies show that even very “at-risk” children learned more during the school year if they get good teachers. It is not a question of capability of the student, but a need for good learning opportunities year-round

49 Communicating in languages other than English
The “slow-down period” A natural part of the bilingual learning process Children slow down, become listeners and observers of language, then “take off” As with other learned skills, you will see “growth spurts” — for monolingual and bilingual children alike — in language

50 Communicating in languages other than English (cont.)
Parents should speak in the language they feel comfortable using Parents are their child’s primary language model. They should model: good language skills using whatever language the parent has good language skills in

51 Getting the word out to parents
Don’t confuse people with too much complexity The message is simple Talk more Interact with your babies Educators should provide lots of examples for parents to model at home

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