According to a new study, having conversations with your children could help them develop language skills.
The study by UCLA researchers has found that adult-child conversations have a more significant impact on language development than exposing children to language through one-on-one reading alone.
"Pediatricians and others have encouraged parents to provide language input through reading, storytelling and simple narration of daily events," explains study's lead author, Dr. Frederick J. Zimmerman, associate professor in the Department of Health Services in the UCLA School of Public Health.
The study of 275 families of children ages 0-4 was designed to test factors that contribute to language development of infants and toddlers.
Participants' exposure to adult speech, child speech and television was measured using a small digital language recorder or processor known as the LENA System.
This innovative technology allowed researchers to hear what was truly going on in a child's language environment, facilitating access to valuable new insights.
The study found that back-and-forth conversation was strongly associated with future improvements in the child's language score.
Conversely, adult monologueing, such as monologic reading, was more weakly associated with language development. TV viewing had no effect on language development, positive or negative.
"What's new here is the finding that the effect of adult-child conversations was roughly six times as potent at fostering good language development as adult speech input alone," Zimmerman said.
The study has been published in the July issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.