Your baby’s brain is a work in progress and you can influence it the most.
Nearly 85 percent of the brain develops by age 3. The more words a baby hears in that time, the better prepared for school and life he or she will be.
Think of like this: A baby’s brain is like a piggy bank. Every positive word a baby hears from a parent or caregiver is another coin in the bank. The payoff of all those words will come when your baby is ready to start school with the skills to help him or her be ready to learn and succeed in school.
In the IMPACT Brain Bags, the Studer Community Institute shares these tips to help adults get started with some advice from Dr. Dana Suskind, the founder of the Thirty Million Words Initiative at the University of Chicago.
They fall into The Three T’s: Tune In, Take Turns, Talk More.
Take Turns means when your child begins to say her first words, the way you respond is critical.
Look out for those moments, and respond with a warm, loving tone. Experts call it “serve and return” — just like serve and volley in tennis. When a child speaks, you should answer with a complete sentence and more words.
That give-and-take is crucial in building the early circuitry of the brain. It lets your child know you are paying attention to her and that you care what she has to say.
That feeling of connection is worth a thousand words.
How can you start to Take Turns?
— Talk all the time. Talk to your baby in conversation even before she has real words. When your baby makes a sound, it’s her way of trying to talk to you. Answer back, even if you feel silly doing it. Every word you say is building her brain.
— Ask “how” or “why” questions. This is important as your child ages. Yes-no questions are only good for one-word answers. How and why questions force your child to start building problem-solving skills.
— Talk numbers. Talking about shapes, numbers and patterns is important. Talk about the number of steps you take or blocks you stack, talk about a tower of four Legos compared to a tower of eight Legos. Use words like bigger, longer, smaller, shorter. Talk about patterns and shapes.