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Daily verbal interactions

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  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. Video Encouraging Young Storytellers 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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”

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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 • Encourageexploration • 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. Video Reading as Dialogue 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

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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

  36. 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

  37. 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

  38. 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

  39. 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

  40. Video Warning Signs 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.

  41. 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

  42. 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

  43. 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

  44. 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’

  45. 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

  46. 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

  47. 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

  48. 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

  49. 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