Talking to your baby is one of the most important things you can do to help your child learn to talk and grow her vocabulary. Talk is also essential for learning to read and write.
Talking to young children - starting at birth - helps them to develop strong communication skills, which enable them to better express themselves. Children who learn to read and write words they have never heard before find it as challenging as learning a whole new language. In sum, children learn to listen first, then talk, read and write. Listening to your words is the first step.
Currently, in the United States, a vocabulary gap (the number of different words a child knows) already exists at kindergarten entry. Research shows that low-income parents, on average, speak to and talk with their children much less than higher-income parents.
Note: talk can and should be done in the language that is most comfortable for you, the parent or primary caregiver. Do not worry if your native language is not English. Your child will benefit from the words you share with him no matter the language and all the skills he acquires will support his literacy in English when the time comes. Additionally, speaking to your child in a second language will provide him the opportunity to be bilingual – an asset in our global society.
The Talk Read Play Milestones Guide provides ways that all families, regardless of income, home language or culture, can help their child develop strong language and literacy skills.
If you are raising a bilingual child, the speech and language milestones may come at different times, since your child is learning to communicate in two languages! Here are some online resources for bilingual families:
http://www.rif.org/leer/index_flash.mspx?flash=true (for Spanish speaking families)
Talk can close the vocabulary gap!