Listening From the Womb

By Judy Lyden

There's an excellent new parenting book that is perfect for parents and grandparents alike. It's called "How to Talk to Your Baby, a Guide to Maximizing Your Child's Language and Learning Skills".

This book is written by a speech pathologist, Dorothy Dougherty, who lays out the whole language game from the beginning of life and shares insights about the importance of language development and how it affects a child's understanding of the world.

Dougherty says children's language learning begins in the womb as they listen to their mother's voice. All children listen to learn. The more they hear, the greater their vocabulary and the greater their IQ. In fact, research indicates that by age 2 children of talkative mothers said twice as many words as children of mothers who silently cared for their babies.

It follows that children who are good listeners are good readers. (Children who are slow to speak are often slow to read.) Frequent daily exposure to words helps brain pathways foster language development more fully _ but that means "live" language, not television. Children need to hear language in relation to what is happening around them. It needs to be delivered by an engaged human being.

That should send off the sirens when you choose child care.

Look at your child care; what do you see?

- Who is talking to my child all day?

- What is the quality of what they are saying and how are they saying it?

- Is the television on at your day care so that the live language is encumbered by noise?

- Is the daycare environment busy, filled with life and excitement?

- Is the child involved?

- Does it matter that my child speaks like my provider? (Language patterns begin early.)

- What does the provider have to say that is significant and delightful?

- Is my child learning to follow directions?

- Is my toddler's adventure and discovery being affirmed by the same kind of love I offer?

- By 16 months, the average child understands about 170 words and should say about 25 of them. Does yours?

"How to Talk to Your Baby" includes explanations of the five methods of language learning: naming, describing, comparing, explaining, giving directions. And then Dougherty takes the reader to ordinary places such as the playground and grocery store and shows the parents the world of teaching places right at our fingertips.

The book includes a good look at language development by age and offers lots of tips for increasing a child's development, as well as red flags for help in detecting children who may be having problems learning.

"How to Talk to Your Baby" is a gift that gives a gift of child development.

(Judy Lyden is a licensed day-care provider. Write to her:
c/o The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN
47702, or e-mail to

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