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Conversations, conversations, conversations

January 31st, 2015

Dr. Constance Beecher, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach shares more with us about expanding children’s vocabulary.

“Vocabulary can be developed by directly teaching new words, or indirectly through having a lot of exposure to words in books and conversations.   Research suggests a combination of both is the best approach, says Dr. Beecher.”

“Developing vocabulary indirectly through books and conversations has many benefits. Children who are read to frequently gain a life-long love of reading. The more children hear different words and understand their meaning, the better readers they will become. This is because learning to read requires an understanding of the relationship between the sounds of language (phonemic awareness) and the symbol or letter that represents that sound (phonics). The more words children know, the better they are able to understand the letter/sound relationship, and conversely, the more knowledge children have about the letter/sound relationship, the better they are able to learn new words,” Dr. Beecher.

She also suggests, “Parents can read a variety of books to and with children, and pause at words that children may not know to explain their meaning. For example, while reading “Corduroy went up the escalator.”, pause and ask “do you know what an escalator is?”. Then define: “An escalator is a set of stairs that moves you from one floor to another.” Then explain: “Last week while I was at Macys, and I rode an escalator from the first floor to the second floor”. Then relate to child: “Where have you ridden on an escalator?” – state the question in a way so that the child can say the word, or ask child to repeat word.”

Dr. Beecher reminds us that, “When having conversations, ask open ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a yes/no). During these conversations, you can introduce synonyms. For example, you might be talking about what happened at daycare or preschool. If your child talks about making a tall tower in the block area, you can say “Oh, you made an enormous skyscraper?” “Enormous is another word for something is very big or tall”, and when a building is enormous, we call it a skyscraper. Why do you think we say skyscraper?”. This gives children an opportunity to practice the new words. Children need opportunities not only to hear new words, but to practice saying them.”

And she also wants us to remember the Non-fiction! Non-fiction or informational books are a great source of new vocabulary. When children are exposed to a wide range of vocabulary in areas like science or history, they are more prepared when they have to read these types of texts in school. See websites like this for suggestions, http://commoncore.scholastic.com/teachers/books/non-fiction.

Or talk with your librarian. This list of non-fiction books for ages 3-5 comes from the State Library of Iowa http://www.statelibraryofiowa.org/ld/t-z/youthservices/Best-Books-for-Preschoolers/bibliography-of-nonfiction-for-preschoolers.

Dr. Beecher says, “You can add vocabulary to your everyday activities. When you take your car to the shop to change your oil, talk about oil, engines, and other components of a car. When you go to a nursery to pick out new plants and flowers for your yard be sure to note the different names of flowers, types of grass, plants and trees. When you make a new recipe, talk about spaghetti, marinara sauce, parmesan cheese, sautéing. Use a mix of nouns and verbs.”

She says, “It takes about an average child about 12 times of interacting with a word before he or she is familiar enough with the word to use it, and many times we do not provide enough opportunities for children to get this practice.”

And Dr. Beecher’s final thoughts? “Lastly, make it fun. There is no need to sit children down with flashcards and ask them to define words. Reading and talking together will make learning vocabulary natural and fun.”

 

Share with us ways that you have made ‘vocabulary’ fun!

Lori Hayungs

 

 

 

 

 

communicating, family time, language development, miscellaneous, parenting ,

Expanding vocabulary

January 27th, 2015

For the next couple of blogs I was able to sit down with Constance Beecher, Ph.D,  Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. Join us as we converse about children  and expanding their vocabulary.

I began by sharing with Dr Beecher that often parents ask, “How much should my child be talking?” or “Is my child using enough language?”

“How can parents help their children? Build a strong vocabulary.” says Dr. Beecher.

Below Dr. Beecher shares about vocabulary development and a vocabulary recipe for success.

Research on the importance of vocabulary development in the early years finds:

  • Having a good vocabulary is one of the best predictors of school success.
  • Very rapid vocabulary acquisition occurs in the pre-literate preschool in into school age (2,000-3,000 words/year)
  • 12th grade seniors near the top of their class knew about four times as many words as their lower-performing classmates.
  • Third graders with large vocabularies were about equal to lowest-performing 12th graders.
  • Children with speech and language disabilities and from low-income and second language homes have the lowest vocabulary gains.

A Vocabulary Recipe for Success:

  • Increase the number of conversations (have more than just short adult to child conversations, allow the child respond back)
  • Check for comprehension (ask follow up questions)
  • Use strategies to increase breadth (like using big words and synonyms)
  • Repeat words and have children practice with you  (let them do more than just watch)

 

We would love to hear how you have added to your child’s recipe for success. Share your tips and techniques here!

Lori Hayungs

communicating, language development, parenting , , , ,

Fingerplays and Fun Enhance Infant Language

January 15th, 2015

It’s cliché!  But oh so true.   Parents— really are a child’s first teacher.  It is amazing to watch tiny babies grow physical and mature into walking and running little people in less than 12 months.  It’s equally amazing to not only experience but influence the miracle of understanding and talking.  From the first babble of sounds to the uttering of recognizable words and then real sentences.  Infant communication is a miracle.    But it only happens with parents who take the time to interact.

Parents and caregivers who take the time to listen, coo, talk, read, sing, and  play games with their babies are teaching important language skills that will set children up for success.  Success in school is related to the acquisition of vocabulary.  Preschoolers who have increased vocabulary do better in school.  That sounds really simple!   ISU Extension has a helpful publication called “Understanding Children-Language Development”. (PM-1529f).  The publication has some great parent tips on ways to nurture child language skills as well as assessing your child’s typical developmental language skills.

Finger plays can be  a great way to interact with infants and toddlers.  Try out the “Old Owl” finger play, included in the publication.   Don’t worry if you can’t sing.  I don’t know any infants that care about your lack of pitch.  Remember some of your favorite finger plays from childhood.  My grandmother had some good ones that I still remember including—“Here is the church…Here is the steeple”?  Or how about “Fly Away Jack, Fly Away, Jill”.   What are some of your favorites?

492024543Janet Smith

communicating, language development , ,

It’s ok to be silly…

January 9th, 2015

It’s been a while since my kidos were babies. Lucky for my offspring,  smart phones had yet to be invented and my bag cellphone had a 30 minute limit!  The technological distractions for parents of young children has exploded.  Certainly it is as important now as ever to connect to with babies not only verbally but with eye contact and touch.  I’ve seen some parents who easily communicate with their babies and others who feel silly and awkward.  One technique that I remember using was what I’ll call the “tour guide” .  Babies are seeing the world through completely new eyes.  Parents can describe and converse with their babies over almost anything that they see, hear, touch, taste, or feel!   I can remember some pretty strange looks in the grocery store, as I talked my way through the aisles in conversation with my than youngsters.   The more talk that goes on…the more natural it becomes.  The awkwardness soon fades..but  hopefully some of the silliness stays!

 

Janet Smith

 

communicating, language development ,

Just Read Everything in Sight

September 19th, 2013

AlphabetDid any of you ever play the “Alphabet Game” when traveling in the car with kids? It went like this. Look for any word that starts with the letter “A.” When you see it, yell out the word before anyone else can. Billboards, road signs, business signs, moving vehicles – all were eagerly searched for that letter. And things turned really interesting towards the end of the alphabet. This game got our family through many road trips. :)

We can use opportunities throughout a day to help our children practice reading. Following a recipe, shopping for groceries, checking the weather, following sports scores, picking out a movie to go see. Yes, reading materials are more than books. And books can be more than bound pages with a hard cover. Introduce your child to the fun of audio books. Now we have online or electronic options with literally any book at our fingertips. It’s not about which type of method is the best. It’s about getting your family to read so choose what works for you.

How have you made reading fun in your family?
Donna Donald

language development, reading , ,

Saturday Morning and a Paper Bag

September 6th, 2013

booksLet me start by sharing a childhood memory. Every Saturday morning my mother would load us four kids in the car and drive into town to the library. Then she gave us each a paper grocery sack and turned us loose. We filled our sacks with a week’s worth of reading and left the library excited about “our new books.” Later in the evenings we would all, parents and children, settle down with a book or magazine.

Now many years later I can tell you we never stopped reading. All four of us kids read daily – books and magazines and newspapers.

So what’s the point of my story? It’s really quite simple. Our parents made it a priority to expose us to the world of reading at an early age. They made sure we had access to reading materials and modeled reading themselves.

Thank you Mom and Dad for giving your kids a gift that keeps giving – hours of enjoyment with books in hand. And yes, I still go to the library on Saturday mornings to stock up on books for the week. The only difference is I carry a reusable library bag instead of the brown paper one.

Donna Donald

language development, reading , ,

The RIGHT Kind of Play

March 14th, 2013

I admit to feeling like I had a play deficit when my children were little. So much so that I used to make myself feel pretty guilty because as an early childhood educator I felt like I should be better at ‘PLAY’. What I discovered is that I just play differently. And guess what. So do you!

We all play differently. I found that I like play that is active or has action. Others like to play board and/or card games that are more quiet. While still others enjoy the make believe and dress up adventures. There is no right or wrong way to play. There is just play. Pure and simple. Play. Play is face to face with the children in your life. Engaging their mind and body while creating strong relationships. Back and forth communication.  I guess my message really is don’t over analyze how you play or if you play is good enough or right enough.

Just play.

Pat yourself on the back, give yourself credit and tell me how you like to play with the children in your life.

Lori

education, family time, friendship, grandparenting, language development, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , , , , , , ,

Come Play with Us!

March 7th, 2013

“Play is a way in which we can learn about ourselves and others. It is at the heart of creativity and makes us more productive”.

Parents often greet a new baby with stuffed animals, dolls and other toys, all given in anticipation of the play that is to come. Join us in March as we talk about the power of play for children of all ages.

Click on the podcast below to hear fascinating research on play.

education, family time, language development, play, podcast, positive parenting, social-emotional , , , , , , , ,

It’s not the emotion – it’s the outlet.

February 22nd, 2013

Guest Blogger- Family Life Intern Mackenzie K.

As Donna and the podcast suggested, anger is natural for children. There are countless issues that may cause a child to feel angry: not getting their way, frustration over things that are hard, learning difficulties, family problems, or friendship issues.

Often times we want to tell our children that they should not be angry. Their anger sometimes seems irrational and unjustified to us as parents. In reality, the emotion of anger is not the problem; it is how they handle that anger.

So allow your child to feel angry. We all know how hard it is to try to change your emotions. Help your child identify their feeling as anger. Saying and labeling the emotion like this may be helpful, “You are angry because I won’t let you eat candy before supper” or “I can tell that when you don’t make the circle perfect it makes you frustrated”.

Now that they can recognize their anger, they can learn how to address it. There are some great strategies and tips to try when helping your child learn to handle their anger in the article below:

Helping Children with Anger

Does anyone have any experience using these techniques? What has worked best for you and your child?

discipline, education, family time, friendship, language development, overindulgence, positive parenting, raising teens, school, social-emotional, spanking, temperament , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Learn, Re-learn, Over-learn

June 21st, 2012

After listening to the podcast this month I found myself wondering about the things I have ‘over-learned’. Those things that come so easily to me now. And then I thought of my middle schooler and the things that are so difficult for her. I wondered how I could help her get to that ‘over learning’ that the podcast talks about so that she can be  less frustrated with certain subjects  (insert Math here).

As a parent sometimes it is so hard to watch our children struggle with different things in school. We want them to enjoy their days and not dread them. I am grateful that there are times that teachers have recognized struggling students and stepped in and said “hold up, we haven’t learned this yet and it’s not time to move on until we do”.  They concentrated on the learn, re-learn and over-learn.

As parents it is our job to continue the learning process. What are some things that you have done these first few weeks of summer to continue the learn, re-learn and over-learning of your school agers? Share your stories here with us!

Lori Hayungs

For additional ideas see “Dare to Excel” publications from ISU Extension and Outreach to Families  (also available in Spanish)

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/families/dare-excel

education, language development, positive parenting, social-emotional, special needs , , , , ,

Elementary my dear Watson….

March 8th, 2012

Sitting on my deck in the sun…listening to the neighborhood children running through the water puddles left by the melting snow. The sounds of their loud and intense squeals of laughter remind me that several of these kiddos are champion tantrum throwers as well. The emotions are just as strong when they are happy as when they are angry. Like Donna said last months temperament topic goes right along with this month’s temper tantrums topic.

In the heat of a good tantrum it’s so important to think about the cause behind the emotions. Getting wrapped up and wound up in the emotions along with the child will be like throwing gas on a fire. Finding a way to remain calm both physically and emotionally can help the child deescalate as well. What was the initial cause of the very first emotion? Was it frustration? Was it hurt? Was it fear? The intensity of the tantrum is the secondary emotion – something triggered.

We have to play Sherlock Holmes…. What was going on prior to the tantrum? Where was the child? Who was in the vicinity? When did the emotions start to show themselves?  Take a breath and see if you can find the clues before responding.

What were some clues you discovered when you search for reason behind your child’s tantrum?

Lori

education, language development, positive parenting, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , , , , ,

Infants learn more vocabulary words from parental interactions than from watching commercial DVD’s

December 9th, 2010

A recent study revealed that babies learn vocabulary words better from interactions with their parents than from watching commercial DVDs which claim to enhance infants’ vocabularies. Researchers tested infants’ (12-18 months old) acquisition of new vocabulary words by comparing infants’ experiences with a commercial DVD designed and promoted for building vocabulary in infants.

To test the infants’ learning of vocabulary words, researchers constructed four learning environments. One learning environment included infants who watched a commercial DVD (designed and promoted to enhance infants’ vocabularies) with their parents at least 5 times per week for 4 weeks, for at least 10 or more hours of viewing time. Parents were asked to engage with their infants in a manner similar to what they would normally do when watching an educational video with their infant. The second learning environment consisted of infants who watched the video for the same amounts of time as the prior condition, but the infants did not engage in any parental interactions. The third learning environment was comprised of parents who were asked to interact with their infants by teaching them a list of 25 words that were shown in the video; infants in this scenario did not watch any videos. Finally, infants in the last condition were considered the “control” group—their parents did not receive any instructions and the infants and parents conducted their normal every day activities.

Interestingly, only the infants who did not watch any videos and only had their parents teaching them new vocabulary words (third learning environment) showed statistically significant increases in their vocabularies. Infants had the highest level of learning when their parents made a concerted effort to teach their children the same words during everyday activities without the aid of any videos. These findings are also consistent with prior research.

In conclusion, the researchers hypothesize that some parents may be overestimating the usefulness of videos to teach infants vocabulary words; in fact, it appears more likely that increases in infants’ vocabularies are the result of normal child development…not the videos infants are watching. Thus, parents who wish to boost their infant’s vocabulary should interact with their infant and concentrate on teaching them vocabulary words through their everyday interactions, as opposed to having their child watch DVD’s.

language development , , ,