What predicts Math and Reading Success in your Child and How to Start Early

As a woman, a mom, a friend, and [what I like to think] a good story-teller, there’s something that I’m particularly good it. Exaggerating.

I exaggerate the most recent tiff with my sister when I tell my husband about it, and I absolutely exaggerate about what time my husband came home from happy hour when I complain to my sister about it. See? Goes both ways.

So what’s this got to do with baby and toddler language development?

Let me ask you this first… What gets your kiddo’s attention? Fire truck sirens? That moment when you screech out loud because you’ve burned dinner or they’re enjoying some good ‘ole fashion fun water play in the toilet?

Kids love exaggeration! We’re using big voices, big emotions all over our face, dramatic pauses and gasps, and the moment is filled with excitement. And… BOOM-BAM! You’ve immediately got their attention. They’re wide-eyed, making eye contact, and interested in you because of their innate curiosity and need to know (kind of like me and my embarrassing Bravo reality TV addiction).

Keeping your child’s attention is actually key to learning. They’ve got to be engaged, responsive, fascinated, and drawn to what you’re doing. So guess what… you have to be interesting.

Oh the pressure to entertain our own children!

Studies show that how well a child is able to maintain their attention at age 4, can predict math and reading achievement. And in my experience, the best way to keep their attention is to exaggerate.

For example… you’re building a block tower for the 354th time today. Your child is losing interest and you can see them fading, eyeing the next toy in the corner. Instead…. you exaggerate the shakiness of your hand as you place the next block atop, shoot a look of extreme worry in your kid’s direction, pleading for assistance to stabilize your exhausted hand… and then the worst happens. The tower collapses, crushing every block beneath it, crashing into the couch, and YOUR TOE. Your precious toe! Catastrophe.

Congratulations, you’ve just created an incredibly fun, entertaining, engaging moment with your child, and I’ll bet they’re back begging for more.

All it takes is a little exaggeration… or maybe I just watch too much reality TV.

5 Brain Boosting Reasons to Talk with your Baby

You’ve probably heard that talking to your baby is important. From the minute your baby is born, their brains are ready and wired to hear, process, and learn language. It’s true that in the first 3 years of life, your baby’s brain triples in size; craving more stimulation to help that organ grow.

So… no pressure, right? I remember that first day of maternity leave when my husband was back at work and my Mom just got on a flight to head home. It was just me and baby.

Now, I've made a career out of teaching kids to talk, teaching stroke survivors to talk, and even getting my husband to talk when it was time to over-communicate and hash something out.

I know all about talking. Trust me on that one. But in the beginning, I was sleep deprived, focused on this little human’s eating patterns, and lucky if I had a decent meal other than cheese and crackers. Changing a diaper required mental energy! How could I possibly narrate every waking moment of the day when I had so little brain power?!

Luckily, things got easier (sort of). And once you’ve figured it out (and you will if you haven’t already), there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to talking:

Your baby needs face time.

Not the video version of grandparents and cousins on your iPhone, but your actual face. Your face gives so much information into what you’re saying and can make your words more meaningful. So start perfecting your “close talker” game.

Chatty Cathy’s preferred.

Talk as often as you can, about whatever you can. If you’re in the car, narrate some directions. If you’re chopping vegetables, narrate the process of holding a knife appropriately. If you’re catching up on emails or texts, read them out loud with emphatic expression.

Don’t shy away from baby talk.

Research shows that going goo-goo-gah-gah and talking in that high-pitched, sing-songy way actually boosts baby’s language, and might get your baby talking sooner.

Keep your thesaurus handy.

Well, not really. But studies show that the number of different words that parents use when they talk with their babies is what can help them succeed with reading later on. For instance, instead of saying “the bird is flying,” try “soaring” or “gliding in the sky.” Admittedly, this is taxing and exhausting to do sometimes. So look for other ways to expose your baby to different words, like books with rich vocabulary or songs.

More than words.

Of course talking is critical to language development and brain development. Your baby can’t learn language from staring at a television all day. It’s the personal communication, love, and attention that they need for learning. Understanding relationships and the beginning of social skills are the perfect foundations for the brain.

More words means bigger brains. Give your baby a boost and get talking.

Now I want to hear from you! Leave a comment below and tell us what your baby loves hearing about the most! Stories? Songs? Do they love when you talk about cars, or food?