Brain Bags: Talk More tips

  • September 15, 2017
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   early-learning

Your baby’s brain is a work in progress and you can influence it the most.

Nearly 85 percent of the brain develops by age 3. The more words a baby hears in that time, the better prepared for school and life he or she will be.

Think of like this: A baby’s brain is like a piggy bank. Every positive word a baby hears from a parent or caregiver is another coin in the bank. The payoff of all those words will come when your baby is ready to start school with the skills to help him or her be ready to learn and succeed in school.

In the IMPACT Brain Bags, the Studer Community Institute shares these tips to help adults get started with some advice from Dr. Dana Suskind, the founder of the Thirty Million Words Initiative at the University of Chicago.

They fall into The Three T's: Tune In, Take Turns, Talk More.

Talk More, well that's pretty self-explanatory. It means even before your child can answer you, talk to him. He hears everything, and everything he hears can build his brain.

Words matter. It’s the number and the kind of words a child hears and how they are said that matters. Babies learn more from positive words than harsh, negative words. They also learn more from words that describe than from words that only give orders.

— Talk about what you do. Talk about what you are doing when your baby is there. When you change a diaper, when you wash the dishes, when you do anything, talk about it to your child.

Answer in sentences. Make the word fragments your baby starts to say into full sentences to help her learn more words. When your child says “Uppie, uppie,” you should respond, “Do you want daddy to pick you up? I would love to pick you up and carry you on my shoulders!”

The right kind of praise. Praise your child’s effort — ”You worked so hard on that puzzle and you finished it. Great job!” — rather than praise a trait — “You are so smart.”

The difference may seem subtle, but research shows that children who are praised for their effort are less likely to give up when faced with a challenge.