Blog Why words matter

Why words matter

by Erika Cardamone

More than 90% of your child’s brain growth is completed before Kindergarten, making those early years critical to their development and even their future success.1

In the last few decades, researchers have realized that educating parents is what really makes the difference in our children.2 What better way to impact our children’s future than provide the very people that are responsible for them with the facts.

With the Starling, our goal is to help all children reach their full potential. And we parents are their first teachers. Every moment, every song, every game, every tantrum, becomes a learning moment for our children. Their brains will thank you later.

The most amazing thing of all… you don’t need the hippest toys or the newest organic anything to grow your baby’s brain. All you need to do is talk. And it’s absolutely free.

Talk. Read. Sing.

Your baby’s brain is ready to absorb language from the moment they are born. Every word, phrase, and sentence you say helps their brain to process information, grow, and develop.

But we’re information hungry parents. How do we know that talking to your baby really does anything for their future? How important is it? And what kind of outcomes can we expect if we talk more?

For decades, researchers have looked at the long-term effects of a child’s environment. As parents, what we do, what we say, how we act, and what our children experience day-to-day actually does predict how they perform later in life.3 When our children receive positive interactions with adults who talk with them, read to them, and take time to teach concepts, it has been shown that these children have a better chance to succeed in school and in the workplace.

Is earlier actually better?

You bet it is! Since so much of the brain is already developing in those early years, it’s crucial that we expose our children to more words, more books, more songs, more play time, and more meaningful interactions with us4 from the very beginning.

The more we talk to our children, the more they will talk to us5. The more they will talk to their peers and their teachers. Communication builds relationships. It builds confidence. If our children can navigate their every day through understanding directions, understanding their environment, speaking words to make requests or comment, then they are actively engaging in the world around them.

How do we impact our children’s communication and long-term success before age 3?

Just talk to your child. Studies have found that children that are exposed to a greater number of words early, have larger vocabularies, better language development, and improved reading comprehension at ages 9 and 10,6 which shows that what they hear before age 3, does predict how they progress for years to come.

Some talking points:

  1. Actively speak to your child. It might seem obvious, but when we talk to our kiddos it does much more for their brain than just overhearing a conversation. Children who are directly spoken to have been shown to process language more efficiently, and have larger vocabularies.7
  2. Ask questions. Cultivate curiosity in your little one. Encourage them to ask questions too to get the information they need and practice speaking to adults or other children early on.
  3. Expand on what your child is already saying. If your child is only saying one or two words in sentence, repeat it and then elaborate on what they’re saying. So if your child says “Throw ball,” you can make that sentence even longer? For example, “Who should throw the ball? Daddy? Ok! I’ll throw the ball, and you catch it!”
  4. Share new information during playtime. Show your kiddo how things work and describe every step.
  5. Be present. Put your iThings away and get on the floor with your kiddo. Make some memories, be silly. Using the simplest of things you’ve already got around your house make the best toys (think boxes, tupperware, blankets and pillows, flashlights!) and can create the best opportunities to use more words!

When adults are more interactive during play and talking more often, children process information faster.8 And better yet, when you’re more engaged during playtime, your child will be more engaged too. They crave our parental attention. Making more moments meaningful during daily routines like eating, bath time and sharing stories are exactly what boosts brain development. More words means bigger brains for today and your child’s future.

About the Author

Erika Cardamone

Erika Cardamone is a speech-language pathologist, Mom, and founder of Baby School, a course that teaches parents how to play with their babies. In her free time, she’s searching for umami in her local eateries, building forts and having dance parties with her toddler and husband in their small city apartment. If you want to know what she’s thinking, she’ll tell you at her blog over at TheSpeechies.com.

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