Professor Anne Fernald, a developmental psychologist at Stanford University in California, US, found that by age five, some children lagged more than two years behind others in verbal and memory skills. The differences related to how much parents and care providers talked with them beginning soon after birth.
Children were found to develop language skills best when the adults involved them in conversations around things the children found interesting. These included reading them stories and avoiding meaningless television chatter. When adults do that a lot—starting on day one—children are more likely to reach their brain’s potential, setting them up for success in school.
Children can’t learn what they don’t hear. Professor Erika Hoff, a developmental psychologist at Florida Atlantic University, US, encourages parents to help children learn the complex structure of language by using a rich, complex vocabulary and avoiding simplistic baby talk. Toddlers can also learn several languages at once, and quickly, when the same person always speaks the same language to them.