I am often frustrated when I talk with adults about how important talking conversationally with children is (giving directions or commands and saying “no” do not count).

Children between 18 months and 3 years learn a new word (that’s vocabulary, folks) every two hours that they are awake.

By age 3 they have deduced most grammar rules for their native language.

They have done ALL this by simply listening. But that listening and learning only happen if there is a live human being to listen to–and interact with.

Hearing language from a computer or TV is not interactive. A machine cannot replace a live human that responds to what each individual child does, when he or she does it. This is why research shows that screens do not increase language development. They are not even neutral. Screens  slow language development.

Watch this brief video clip to get an excellent feel for what the child and his or her brain needs in these years when such tremendous language development is taking place. The brain is so hardwired to learn language that it will actively protest when it is not able to participate in the activities that enable it (if lack of response continues, however, humans learn to quit trying).

Talking works. It’s simple. It’s essential. Talking leads to language development and language development before age five leads to learning to read after age 5.

Here’s to the power of conversation!

Babette

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