This is an incredible study by a Harvard & MIT PhD student, using brain imaging to determine the impact that talking to your children has on their development. Please click on the link above to read the whole article.
What they found was, it’s not just the quantity of words you use, but the quality of the interaction between you and your child that matters in changing the brain’s physiology, and helping to build cognition, language and literacy skills.
Interaction refers to the back and forth communication with your child, whether it starts off less verbally in infants, and becomes more verbal as the child grows. Conversations will look different at different ages and stages. What should remain consistent is that you want to provide your child with the maximum number of back and forth turn taking opportunities.
Examples of back and forth communicative interactions:
Tickling the baby and she giggles. Then you may say, “Do you want more?” And then tickle her again and she giggles.
Rolling a ball back and forth with your child, but stopping for her to look at you or make a sound before rolling it back and saying “go”
Interpreting what a child says e.g., the baby says “b” when looking at a ball. You could say “yes, that’s a ball. Would you like a ball?”
If your child is verbal, engaging in a conversation about your child’s day or a story you are reading etc.,
The research highlights the importance of the “home language environment” and the impact it can have on brain development.
It’s important to note that it’s not just about talking to your child, it’s about talking with your child and really building that relationship that counts.