Learning theories and recommendations on optimizing your child’s future performance is freely exchanged in books, websites, and TV shows. Reading to a newborn baby develops better language skills, according to the professional organization of pediatricians. It’s yet another competitive way to further confuse expecting parents. Exposure of newborns to words may help develop language skills through the first 3 years of the rapidly developing brain. Yet there are more things in action than improved language skills. Those first 3 years are a sensory excitement for a new baby and, while extra care may help, there’s more happening than interactive language skills.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) is releasing advice to new parents that reading to your newborn baby helps develop better language skills during their first three years. The AAP represents 62,000 practicing pediatricians in the USA.
Most of the evidence came from a Stanford University Study, from December 2013, that at 18-months, children of higher socioeconomic status had better language skills than those of lower socioeconomic status.
The small sample of children available near the university were tested twice, at 18 months and at 2 years. The results were:
At 18 months, toddlers in the higher SES group could identify the correct object in about 750 milliseconds, while the lower SES toddlers were 200 milliseconds slower to respond.
“A 200-millisecond difference in response time at 18 months may not sound like much, but it’s huge in terms of mental processing speed,” Associate Professor Ann Fernald said. Fernald did the study at Stanford’s Center of Infant Studies.
The belief is that those of higher socioeconomic status read or interact more with their children than those of lower socioeconomic status. There is no guaranty which kids will attain those language skills, academic success, or special talents later in life. Friends, environment, access to private schools are also variables. Basically, reading to you child at infancy may not produce another Stephen King or playing music to your newborn may not produce a Mozart.
According to the Baby Center website, there may be many other constituents that factor into a baby’s language delay.
Parents have the jitters when their children show language abilities a little later, at 3 years than at less than 2 years. Some studies demonstrate that undetected hearing problems by as little as 10% may alter language development.
It has been validated that, even from before birth, babies are major sensory mechanisms to what goes on around them. They are keen observers. The first three years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a baby’s development. A newborn’s brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight. But by age 3, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells. These are due to exposure to language, music, athletic play, motion, color, and all the stimuli the baby was exposed to. as well as the baby’s emotional connections with those stimuli. Selecting which of those are “likes” and which of those should be developed further is often random. That’s why there are many children in music school but only one in 100,000 might make it to the stage.
A part of language, culture, and innocent defense is deception. Being careful what you say and do can influence a young child’s mind in many ways. How many children heard, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.” from their parents? Deception can often confound any attempt to convey honest, pure language skills.
The brain is an astute observer and your baby learns to imprint behaviors that you do daily, often without thought. Sometimes the use of common deceptions by an adult may impress children in certain ways. Deception is so much a part of our culture that many people don’t know they are doing it. For example, when is it correct to lie? What does that lie do to an impressionable, developing mind? It can create something called cognitive dissonance and a state of confusion. This may haunt the ever-cautious parent as the child grows.
Perhaps a little less scientific, Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget believed that, based on stimuli, babies may construct their own references, feelings, and files of everything they interact with. it asserts that, even as adults, we construct our cognitive abilities through self-motivated action in the world as we develop more independence and autonomy. The art of deception may often be integrated as a color in the construct.
For example, while I wasn’t exposed to classical music in my first three years, I watched TV. Every Sunday, I was in awe of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People Concerts and his exciting explanations about music. This passion for classical music has been part of my life even though I’ve been exposed to more contemporary genres like rock and hip-hop. It is true that one’s positive impressions in early life stages help shape thoughts and ideas. My shift was to science and writing over music as a career choice.
Culture offers significant variables in childhood development. Tight community boundaries and education may also
contribute to control further in life.
So the AAP is telling all its members to advise parents to begin reading to children as newborns. Millions of new parents will jump and do so. Like all potentially good things, it is easy to overwhelm a developing child by flooding stimuli at a rapid, constant rate.
IQ scores and personality traits, for example, vary from one child to another regardless of economics or upbringing. Genetics may be one factor and more studies are demonstrating that genetic mutations (such as USP9X) may cause certain early disabilities in developmental learning.
Every parent wants their child and children to grow to optimum capacity and, many, are saddened when disorders like autism and other negative conditions crop-up in later years. There may be so many reasons why and few answers. Parents dread when their guidance is disrupted by a child’s evolutionary path to individuation and autonomy.
Language and the control of language are important skills worth developing. They are how you interact and influence people. They are part of the cover that people judge you by. If you believe that reading to your newborn and playing music to your newborn will help assure positive development, then heed that advice. It may aid a singularity but, as children grow to adulthood, there may be many surprises to come.
Your normal newborn is an exceptionally tunable sensory device that grows exponentially in the course of three years. The brain retains plasticity through adulthood. Expose your child’s rapidly developing brain to many different stimuli but try not to overwhelm. Language and its content are extremely important. Pediatricians must advise new parents that there are many components of language and how it’s developed in the best and worst of circumstances and benefits. There is no single rule and no single path that leads to improved language skills. Love and attention helps along the way.