Why Talking to Kids Is Essential in Childcare

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Earlier this month, we observed Words Matter Week. It’s always the first full week in March, coinciding with National Grammar Day. But what does this have to do with child care and early childhood education? Words form the basis of all our relationships and interactions with others. How often have you said to a child, “Use your words,” when you know they want something but need to learn to ask nicely? Children learn by mimicking the adults around them, so they learn to speak by being spoken to.


Interacting verbally with children is an essential part of being a parent or childcare provider. Here’s how talking to children helps them learn.


Processing Speech

Learning to process speech is an important step in a child’s development. It allows the child to associate the sounds of words with what they represent. As an adult, you might feel silly asking your child to show you their ball, block, or other toys in front of them, but it’s vital for your child’s development. They learn to process language faster and expand their vocabulary.


Learning New Words

These interactions also help your child learn new words and continue to advance their verbal communication skills. Researchers at Stanford University studied 29 children between the ages of 19 months and 24 months to see how their language skills progressed and if that was connected to the number of words they heard in a day. The researchers discovered a direct correlation between the number of words the children heard in a day and the number of words they knew by the end of the study.


Direct Engagement

The study did turn up one interesting caveat. What the researchers dubbed “overheard speech” did not affect the children’s vocabulary size. Overheard speech is speech happening in the background that the child can hear but is not directed to them, such as a nearby conversation or noise from the TV. Toddlers need direct and engaging interactions to pick up new words. As children get older, they will begin to repeat everything they hear—even when you think they’re not listening. However, when they are very young, deliberate face-to-face interactions are the best way for children to learn new words.


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Wollaston Child Care Center | Early Education and Childcare in Qunicy, MA

At Wollaston Child Care Center, we promote all aspects of your child’s well-being, both when they are with us and at home with you. Our childcare professionals have the best interests of your child and family at heart, so our programs are designed to be flexible and meet your needs.


Contact us at (617) 773-7217 to learn more about our childcare programs.