Researchers at York University have found a connection between kids who hear high amounts of adult speech and better skills such as reasoning, numeracy and shape awareness.
This study is truly one of a kind!
The researchers were able to see how preschoolers spend their time at home by placing tiny audio recorders into the clothing of children aged 2 to 4 (isn’t research great!?)
107 children participated in the study and their experiences at home playing and interacting with their parents/caregivers were captured over 3 days, for up to 16 hours each day.
Parents were asked to complete activities with their children – involving drawing, copying and matching tasks – designed to test their child’s cognitive skills (cognitive skills are those core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason and pay attention).
Lead author of the study, Katrina d’Apice, a PhD student from the University of York’s Department of Education, said:
“Using the audio recorders allowed us to study real-life interactions between young children and their families in an unobtrusive way within the home environment rather than a lab setting”
The researchers found that high quality adult speech may have benefits for children’s language development, as children in the study who interacted with adults who used a diverse vocabulary knew a greater variety of words themselves (so if we as parents and caregivers use a variety of different words, our children will also know and use a variety of different words … makes sense!)
The study also analysed the recordings to look at the impact different parenting styles might have on the children’s behaviour.
d’Apice and her colleagues found that positive parenting – where parents are responsive and encouraging of exploration and self-expression – was associated with children showing fewer signs of restless, aggressive and disobedient behaviours.
The study’s senior author, Professor Sophie von Stumm from the Department of Education at the University of York, said:
“This study is the largest naturalistic observation of early life home environments to date”
“We found that the quantity of adult spoken words that children were exposed to varied greatly within families. Some kids heard twice as many words on one day as they did on the next.
Author quotes and material sourced from: University of York .
All content has been edited for readability and length.
Journal Reference: Katrina d’Apice, Rachel M. Latham, Sophie von Stumm. A naturalistic home observational approach to children’s language, cognition, and behavior. Developmental Psychology, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/dev0000733.