Children’s vocabularies boosted by visual clues

Speaking to toddlers about objects they can see in front of them boosts their vocabulary by the time they reach kindergarten, according to a new study. This is from the Telegraph…

Referring to objects as young children look at them gives them a clue about the meaning of the word and helps their development of language.

Up to a quarter of the difference between children’s vocabularies when they enter kindergarten could be down to how well their parents use “non-verbal cues” when talking to them, researchers said.

Saying “There goes the zebra” whilst visiting a zoo, for example, is more helpful to a child than simply saying “Let’s go to see the zebra” and will help a child learn the animal’s name faster.

Researchers from the University of Chicago filmed 50 parents and their children, who were aged 14 to 18 months, during the course of a normal day and studied the video footage.

Some parents provided clues about 38 per cent of unfamiliar words they used, for example by referring to something the child was looking at, but in other cases the figure was just five per cent.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, showed that differences in the parents’ use of visual clues could account for 22 per cent of the differences in children’s linguistic ability when they reached kindergarten.

Dr Erica Cartmill, who led the research, said: “Children’s vocabularies vary greatly in size by the time they enter school. “Because preschool vocabulary is a major predictor of subsequent school success, this variability must be taken seriously and its sources understood.”

More at:  Children’s vocabularies boosted by visual clues

Here’s a link to the research paper abstract: Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary 3 years later

Here’s some available background information about the study

Please share any thoughts or feedback on this study in the comments below or via twitter…

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  1. annietrev

    SchoolsImprove this is basic Montessori technique you are talking about & yes its very effective. Child looking at speaker important too.

    • camelliabloom

      Talkloads SchoolsImprove Did this with my 2 and my mother did with me. I am not surprised. Common sense.

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