By: Dr. Linda Carson
By age three, most children have acquired around 1,000 words. By the age of six, they have acquired nearly 10,000 words! This highlights the significant role we have during the first five years of life to lay the foundation for expanding vocabulary as well as using language for learning and communicating.
How can busy parents support and enhance this significant stage of child development? Probably the easiest way is to talk to children as much as possible. In the youngest toddlers, describe what they are doing as they explore and experiment. With preschool children, ask questions and have conversations about everything from what they might see in nature to their preferences for activities or foods. And be intentional about introducing new and unusual words so that your child’s vocabulary expands. Another very important but easy way to build vocabulary, and at the same time encourage a love of books, is bedtime reading.
While you are at it, add words to your playtime. Babies think and communicate with their bodies before they actually think with words, so your day to day playful interactions can be very meaningful for learning as well as for building bonds of trust and love. During early childhood, children learn a lot with their bodies and about their bodies. There are rich vocabulary words to be experienced by moving and exploring.
Combining music with deliberate movement has even greater impact on early learning. When young children hear music, they naturally respond by moving their bodies. Movement and music have been shown to influence and enhance the healthy development of the brains and bodies of young children. Music stimulates both sides of the brain. When childhood songs encourage movements that use both sides of the body and incorporate healthy messages, a powerful double whammy learning experience is taking place inside the child.
“Developmentally appropriate music activities involve the whole child-the child's desire for language, the body's urge to move, the brain's attention to patterns, the ear's lead in initiating communication, the voice's response to sounds, as well as the eye-hand coordination associated with playing musical instruments.” (Harman, M.A. Music and Movement - Instrumental in Language Development, http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=601).
So music and movement can not only build vocabulary and motor skills, they can also lay the very necessary foundation for school readiness and school success.
Choosy Kids is a company devoted to early learning through music and movement. Listen to samples of well-conceived, fun-filled songs that encourage active learning.
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