A recent study in the July issue of Pediatrics, revealed the importance of Conversational Turns in the language development of children 0-3.
Jill Gilkerson, Ph.D. is the author of The Power of Talk, a research study examining the relationship between parent talk and child language development. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from UCLA.
Q: I don’t see how I can engage in conversation with my child if they can’t talk yet. What exactly are Conversational Turns and how do I increase them?
A: A Conversational Turn (CT) occurs when a child vocalizes (initiates) and an adult responds, and vice versa. Each time an exchange occurs, one turn is counted.
Babies can communicate before they even start talking. Sometimes parents feel awkward talking to a baby who doesn’t understand and cannot talk back. But, babies need to hear words repeated in many contexts in order to understand language.
Follow these tips to increase your Conversational Turns and help ensure that your your child is receiving an optimal language environment:
- Talk and sing to your baby while you’re engaged in daily duties, such as cleaning or shopping.
- Gossip, chit-chat and think out-loud.
- It is important to react to pre-verbal sounds like coos or squeals. If your child coos, encourage this by reacting and talking back to him/her.
- Using picture books that have simple words and colorful pictures, talk about what you see and give your baby a chance to respond.