Watching Babies Think: Talking Up a Storm—The Perfect Storm
One day, when your baby is around 18 months old, it will hit you that a walking, talking, knowing little child with a much defined personality has “taken up residence” in your home, loudly calling your name (Mom-eeeee!), and claiming your heart in a new and different way. Walking and getting into mischief was the beginning of the change. But the most significant transformation in your relationship is triggered by your little one’s improved ability to communicate. With just a few words, they can put language, gestures and emotions together. It’s a totally different experience—this emergence of the toddler—who is too grown up to be a infant, but young enough to still be your baby.
When the first 7-10 words appear, the time has come to do some heavy lifting on language development. This is the very beginning of the word explosion. The brain is saying “I’ve got these sounds all figured out. PLEASE help me make some words so I can talk to you!”
In one video of a 16 month old toddler (see link at end of article) we see a practical example of the brain working to advance this little one into a complicated telephone conversation with her daddy. While she has just a few words in her spoken vocabulary, she definitely understands more words than she can pronounce (probably 20-30); hence her sense of conversation is rather complex.
How do you get from this stage at 16 months to the fully formed 3 year old with a vocabulary of 1000 or more words?
- Remember the brain is hard-wired to be social and hard-wired to have language. Put the two together and baby has the platform to communicate with YOU, the most revered person on the planet.
- In the space of a few months of talking, describing, and reading together you will literally see all of your little one’s maturational and developmental “tracks” beginning to converge. This is the perfect storm of early child development; the equivalent of the transition from freshman to senior. Check out the difference in the second video of a 2-year-old explaining a very important secret to her mother (see link below). She probably has a spoken vocabulary of close to 200 words.
- In just eight months the content of communication at 16 months leaped from occasional words to complete sentences in the video of the 24 month old. The awareness of guilt that the 2 year old felt because she really couldn’t keep a surprise from her mother also showed a maturity of thought.
- This storm of child development is an opportunity not to be missed. Language development at age 3 is the foundation for reading proficiency at age 8. And reading proficiency in 3rd grade is the bottom line for high school graduation and certainly college attendance.
When you spend fun time talking and listening to Baby you get to hear the product of the thinking that once could only be observed. As you practice words that babies need for their self-expression, you will build their capacity for success many years into the future. This storm of development is critical and unique to this period of life. The evidence shows that the early years set the stage, provide the rules of grammar, and give exposure to spoken language that cannot be reproduced to the same effect at any other time in the life span.
To view the videos mentioned above, click on these two links: