We’ve all heard it – “Talk to your baby”. Research shows that both IQ and language scores are higher for children exposed to talkative environments as young children. Recently there has also been evidence to suggest that speaking to our baby bump can improve our child’s language development later in life. We’re told to talk about what’s happening in the environment (e.g. “That doggie is barking!”), to narrate what we’re doing (e.g. “I’m going to put these socks on now”) and to talk about what we think our child is interested in (e.g. “That’s a squishy ball you’re holding. Isn’t it?”). How often are we told to “point” to different things in front of our babies? In my opinion, not often enough. We’ve spoken about the importance of pointing here and research has shown that the number of objects a child points to greatly impacts a child’s language development. This correlation between a child’s point and language is in fact even stronger than the correlation between how often parents speak to their babies and later language development. I’m not minimizing the importance of speaking to your child. Instead I’m suggesting we continue talking and also consider how we can promote pointing! Guess what? We can work on pointing during every-day playful interactions!
We’ve got a couple ideas for you to build on all that great pointing you’re probably already doing during reading time, play with toys and bath time.
- Look through books, photo albums, newspapers, magazines, or flyers together. Point to different items as you speak about them! You’d be surprised what great playful interactions you can get going while looking through not only your child’s books but also your reading materials. Home decorating magazines often have cute little fur babies that our little ones enjoy looking at, and recipe books can make for fun playful interactions too. Pointing to different pictures of food items and pretending to take them off the page and munch on them can be great fun! By using some of your own reading material you can increase your child’s exposure to different vocabulary while reading something you enjoy too!
- Set up your play area placing toys ‘up’, slightly out of your child’s reach, on a table, sofa or a window ledge. You can point to the toys and talk about the different items. If your child enjoys watching the toys fall down you can point to a toy and then help it fall down and crash. Then point to another toy and make it crash down, maybe this time the toys falls into a basket. After you have modelled pointing a couple of times, wait and see if your child starts pointing to tell you which toy he wants to fall down next. If he doesn’t pick up on pointing yet, but is enjoying the game and the anticipation of the toys falling down, don’t worry about it – continue on with with the activity yourself. You can also play this activity during bath time by placing toys on the side of the tub or using these toys that you can dip in the water, stick on the tiles or on your tub then watch fall down and splash in the water.
- Using bath crayons can be a fun activity that leads itself well to pointing. You can draw a simple face, shape or animal that your child loves on the tub/tiles. Point to the animal, hide it with a face cloth, then make it ‘peek’! Then point to another animal you’ve drawn on the tub and do the same actions, hiding it, then making it ‘peek’. Again, after you have modelled pointing a couple of times you can wait and see if your child starts showing you with his little pointing finger which animal he wants you to hide. It takes time for a child to learn the power of a point. If he isn’t pointing yet, continue to model pointing as you play the game with him and know that you are helping him start to understand that pointing can be a great way to communicate.
These are just a couple of suggestions for getting our pointing fingers going. We’d love to hear from you. Let us know how you’ve been incorporating pointing into your daily activities!