The language development that takes place during early childhood is truly amazing. It was startling to realize that language is a natural development. For example children use the past tense of verbs without being taught. Although language is something that develops naturally a child greatly benefits from being part of everyday conversations with parents. In this chapter the language of different social classes was discussed. “An average child from a professional family hears 32 affirmations and 5 disapprovals per hour, from a working class family a child hears 12 affirmations and 7 disapprovals per hour, and from a welfare family a child hears 5 affirmations and 11 disapprovals.” It is very clear to strengthen child’s vocabulary it is important that conversations are positive, used to encourage and to give praise which build a child’s self esteem.
This chapter was valuable. It helps us as teachers to better see and understand where each child is in the language process.

Janet Steever & Lindsay Francese

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I thought this chapter was very valuable also. I know a number of parents who have "signed" with their children and thought it interesting to read that researchers have found that children who learn baby signs become more advanced linguistically. They also have parents who are very motivated to communicate and talk to their children!
The idea about writing down a LIST of your baby's first words and phrases... as opposed to just the first was wonderful. My daughters would love to have a record of that development! I also think it would really help parents tune into the stage of their child's speech development and allow them to support and scaffold the attempts.
Lastly, the section about children working on the pragmatics part of language really spoke to me as an educator. I have noticed such a difference in the lack of basic manners for many students today. I worry that many of todays parents are so taxed trying to hold their lives together that they are failing to teach their children the basic social skills and manners that will allow them to be successful in school, work and their personal lives.
The idea that stood out in this chapter was that parents don't have to teach language to their children but they do need to be active partners in the process. We can also apply this idea to our classroom teaching. I have finally gotten sick of hearing myself speak after several years of teaching! Actually, I finally realized that my students get so much more stimulation when I "guide" the conversations they have within their small groups. They are learning new vocabulary, speech patterns, and grammar rules from each other and this is much more motivating than listening to a teacher at the head of the class all day long. The authors say that we need to make "space" for their conversations and I find that small group discussions are the best way for several students to fit in their stories, experiences, debates, questions, and connections during a school day that has so much that needs to be accomplished.
This is a perfect example Cindy :) (See my comment below)
As the chapter states, language will develop naturally over time. It is so important for parents to have conversations with their children, to have an interest in what they have to say. As Jane stated, parents are so busy just getting through the day that they miss these opportunities to guide their child's language development. In my classroom, I can see the children that come from families where conversation is a part of their eveyday home life. I can also see the ones that may go home and watch TV without much interaction from any adult and it breaks my heart.
I loved the message that encourages us to use praise and affirmations and positive conversations to help strengthen a child's vocabulary.
I love this chapter of the book. It is especially interesting to me because I am working with young children who have difficulties/delays with language and communication. I like the part of this chapter where the authors talk about the number of “conversational turns” a baby can have when communicating, even before they can talk. I also like that the authors express the fact that language is learned in the context of interaction and that these child directed interactions provide the best environment for language learning. For parents of young children, I think the value of this chapter is endless. It really explains the important stages of communication that lead to development of verbal language. For instance, a three year old who has little expressive & receptive language /difficulty with communicating probably had some difficulty with shared attention as a baby. Some parents don’t realize what steps their children are missing in the developmental ladder toward language/communication. I also liked reading about the “baby signs” because I use signs with non-verbal preschoolers to help facilitate development of functional language. I have a student this year who started to use some sign, and is now using words and short phrases along with the signs. The authors suggest that parents need to be language partners and talk to their children a lot. This is so true. I also like that they say “be a conversation elicitor, not a conversation closer.” It is important for parents to understand how important it is to take the time to talk with their kids, just casual conversation can go a long way for language development.
Yes, I was really impressed with how long a baby will persist with attempting to communicate even at 11 mos. I think the baby gave the mother 7 opportunities to understand that she wanted the sponge. I remember my youngest niece was delayed in talking because her older sisters anticipated her needs and she wasn't required to use her language skills at an early age.
I agree with Jane that the importance of manners, of civility is missing in some of our children. Understanding and useing your manners is an important tool in navigating school and the world outside. From the works of Ruby Payne, we learend about the hidden rules in middle class versus poverty. And, yes, in middle class we value civil, social discourse.
It is so interesting that whether it is Ruby Payne, Geoffrey Canada, or the Risley/Hart study, it all comes back to building strong oral language skills from an early age through adult interaction, gives children a strong foundation for being successful in school and for acquiring the skills necessary to have a productive professional life.
I am not in this book club, but I have to chime in. It is very important to have parents who communicate with children, and it is has been stated in many studies that many children from low SES backgrounds do not have parents who communicate with them in a way that would enrich vocabulary and language development. One study looked at a Pre-K teacher's impact on language deficits (I'll look for it an post it). They found that the Pre-K teachers who sat on the floor with the children during play centers and at the table with the children during snack and facilitated conversation among the children in the class were able to produce far more gains in vocabulary and language development than the teachers who used play center and snack time to prepare arts and crafts, fulfill duties or even talk to children in an adult/child discourse.
I enjoyed this chapter. I'm going to pass this book along to a friend of mine with young children so she can do some of the experiments. I agree that the students in our district come from homes where parents are not having enough positive converstaions with their children. I can tell that many parents spend most of their time pointing out the negatives of the childs behavior. This really effects the child and their vocabulary (or lack of).
The author states "talk contributes not just to language development but to children's expanding knowledge about the world and to try their willingness to engage in dialogue with others." This goes back to our students lack of background knowledge.
Now that we are finally back in school it was great to see the students again, but spending so much time at home, you can truly see the child in his or her natural state. I had asked a certain child to come up to the board and be my reader of the days of the week during circle time. The child looked at me and said I don’t know how to read. I said why sure you do, you are an excellent reader just look at the beginning letter of each word and that will tell us the sound that will then tell us which day of the week it is. For instance M, MMMM, must be Monday. After assisting this child through “reading” all the words, I had the entire class give her a big round of applause for doing an excellent job at reading. Later that day, that same child at center time told me she wanted to read me a book she had been looking at in the library center. Sure enough she made up the words and I could see that she was so happy to think that she was reading. It made me think about how the tiny bit of positive encouragement that I had given to this child; telling her she was a reader; set her off on a literacy tangent the rest of the day. It also made me realize that this child who comes from an economically disadvantaged situation probably never receives any sort of encouragement like this at home. All the more importance as an educator to allow this child to feel as confident and as special in my classroom everyday as a middle to upper class child who may hear positive reinforcement at home consistently.
Besides finding this chapter on language development fascinating, I found myself thinking about my student who came to me in September speaking no English whatsoever. (In fact, he cried for the first week because he had no idea what anyone was saying and truly didn't understand what was going on in the classroom!) In November when I assessed him he would look at me and try to understand what I was saying and I would try to communicate my questions by motioning and using my extrememly poor Spanish, but would not or could not answer me. Slowly, in the month following that, I heard him begin to count in English, occasionally address other children in the class by name, and one day come to me and say "bathroom"! Now he has begun to use 2 and 3 word sentences in English, and for the mid-year assessment counted in English to 8, identified colors in English, and mastered a few other skills. I couldn't help but think how his learning English as a second language through total immersion had some parallels to what we were reading about in this chapter.

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