Fort Myers speech therapists

Speech Therapists: For Strong Language Development, Talk Your Kid’s Ear Off

Children learn speech and language through immersion. They closely watch your lips and hear the sounds while working to grasp the meaning. When there is a delay or disability that impedes that process, FOCUS Fort Myers speech therapists can help – but that doesn’t mean you should stop talking.

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals that when adults regularly engage young children in conversation, those kids will have stronger connections between the two developing regions of the brain known to be critical to language development.

This discovery held true even when researchers controlled for parental education and income, meaning engaging your children from a young age can help give them a language skills boost regardless of socioeconomic status.This is significant because many prior studies dating back to the early 1990s have established a so-called “word gap” when between children of disparate socioeconomic means. Those who grow up in lower-income households tend to have heard an estimated 30 million fewer words in their lives compared to classmates of more affluent means by the time they reach the ages of 4-6. Thusfar, it’s not been proven that the link is causal, but even if it were, this new research suggests to our pediatric Fort Myers speech therapists it can be overcome when parents devote the time to chatting their kids up at every opportunity. 

The analysis looked closely at language development of 40 kindergarten-age children from a wide range of economic and social backgrounds. To each family, they provided an in-home audio recording device, through which they measured roughly how often the adults were engaging the children in conversation and to what extent. Then they measured skills like conversational turn-taking were stronger, as were the connections between the Broca’s and Wernicke’s brain area regions which are known to be essential to comprehension and production of speech.

Fort Myers Speech Therapists: Ways to Engage Your Child and Boost Speech & Language

Nurturing a child’s speech and language development, increasing their vocabularies and improving their grammar, isn’t something most adults are even conscience of doing. But making a concerted effort to engage even more – especially if you’ve spoken to speech therapists about your concerns regarding a delay or disability – will never hurt.

Some examples of ways you can help nurture your child’s language development:

  • Talk, talk, talk. That sounds easy enough, but… Sometimes it can feel a bit odd to have one-sided conversations with a little person who may not be as responsive as you’d expect. Start with this: Narrate everything you’re doing, everything your’e seeing, as you go about your day. Don’t worry about sounding silly. “Now we’re walking into the grocery store. This is where we’re going to buy all the food, like apples and oranges and bread and milk.” Or here’s another, “Now we’re going to take a bath. Let’s make sure that water is nice and warm. Do you feel the warm water on your belly? I was thinking when we’re all clean and dried off, we’ll get dressed and take a walk outside.”
  • Read – often. It’s never too early to start reading to your child. Speech therapists have seen that one of the best predictors of how early and how well a child will begin to read is how often they are read TO. Start off with short, simple board books. Pause at the end of each page before turning, give your child a chance to absorb the connection between the words and the pictures.
  • Enjoy music. Who doesn’t love music? Kids especially love those catchy, rhyming lyrics that tend to be lively and fun (think, “Old McDonald Had a Farm”).
  • Tell your child stories. Make it up as you go, and get creative and silly with characters, conflict and adventure – ideally one that captures his or her specific interests. (A happy ending never hurts either.)

If you’re looking for additional suggestions on how to engage your child, just ask our dedicated Fort Myers speech therapists for tips.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Language Exposure Relates to Structural Neural Connectivity in Childhood, Aug. 13, 2018, Journal of Neuroscience

More Blog Entries:

Pup Can Give Child’s Speech Therapy Pep, Study Says, Oct. 7, 2018, Fort Myers Speech Therapists Blog

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