Did you know you can raise a child’s IQ simply by engaging him or her in regular conversation? Encouraging responsiveness and enjoying their company?
Language is our main avenue to learning about the world. Talking and listening to a child is one of the most important intellectual forms of stimulation a child will ever receive. Music too has been shown to boost brain development. The processing musical sounds has been shown to be closely related to the processing of speech sounds. Both speech and music activate similar brain regions. This suggests that music is a prelinguistic language. Listening, as a skill is therefore a pre requisite to analyzing both speech and musical sound.
Through the provision of interactive, fun participatory games, we can encourage and grow our child or children’s listening ability through language, listening and musical games.
When our infants are between the ages of 7 and 12 months old we tend to notice subtle changes in their coos and caas. Babbling seems to change and more consonant sounds begin to take centre stage. The child begins to make headway towards those first coherent words. Its one of the most exciting moments of this age range for any parent (or nanny). The precise age of this occurrence is not necessarily related to further language development pace, one does need to account for the fact that, a child’s vocabulary by the age of 3 years old does predict adult vocabulary. Research has shown for example that during the first 3 years when brain growth and neural networking to pre frontal cortex is at it’s highest parents and care givers can have a tremendous impact on a child’s subsequent vocabulary and IQ. There are apparently 3 factors which come into play here. The quantity of language spoken directly to a child, the quality of language spoken directly to the child and the quality of the language heard by the child. In other words, for example, the number of descriptive words used, the number of uncommon words used, the explanations of words heard, and the carers (parents and child carers) style of interaction with the child. Is the language positive, responsive and encouraging? All these factors play a part.
What are the main characteristics of music? Pitch, intensity, rhythm and timbre. Are these same factors all found in language? Yes, and hence the similarity and impact on language development and later IQ development. Musical experience assists our children to learn to listen, to remember, to produce language sounds and integrate language sounds. Babies will play with sounds as they go through the first few years of life. Experimenting with babbling repeating tunes, nursery rhymes, and songs. We may not realize it as adults, but these lovely ‘games’ our children are playing are essentially toys for the ear and voice.
Besides the effects of music on language development exposing your child to musical activity or instruction has all the benefits of increased IQ, increased abstract reasoning abilities, improved auditory memory, increased creativity and manual dexterity.
Listening may seem as though its a natural and organic occurrence, but how many times have you had to ask someone to repeat themselves, so that you, as an adult can hear what a person trying to communicate with you is saying? Enter, skilled listening. Skilled listening refers to our children’s ability to concentrate on selected sounds. Listening ability is the starting point for a vast amount of learning whether it is musical or language based.
Games, talking rhyming, singing reading, music and movement all help our children improve their cognitive neural networking development and its really never to early to start. Watch this space for a tonne of fun activities and games to play with the little ones in your care.
Written by: Bianca Steyn
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