Critical Period For Language Development

Genetically speaking, there are times in a child’s development when the event in question will happen if everything is developing normally.  But, if something gets in the way of normal development and that critical period passes, the child may miss developing a certain ability.  Case in point is language.  Children can more easily learn a language before they hit puberty.  That’s why it is best for a second language to be introduced as early as possible.

In fact a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience told of brain studies on 4 to 7 month olds when they were hearing a variety of sounds.  They found that the little brain cells fired differently when they were hearing sounds that were in the range of speech, as compared to non-speech noises.  The researchers then found ways to reward the babies for recognizing more complicated sound patterns.  Hopefully in the future, this being able to actually see the brain cells react may help researchers to pinpoint brain processing problems in language, and figure out how to help the pathways form more efficiently in the first place.

So, what can you do, to help your little one’s brain cells?  Well, the most important thing for you to do is to talk to your child, make eye contact often, smile and laugh and when your baby babbles back to you, be sure you continue the conversation!  Make your voice interesting, by asking questions, and answering with excitement or agreeing with your little one.  Say a phrase, then wait for him to respond.  Remember that there may be a little delay in the response, so just make eye contact, smile and be patient.  Remember that when you make eye contact, smile, laugh and talk and sing, your baby’s brain is making those bonding chemicals, especially that oxytocin, that helps with all sorts of processes.  Give that kid a hug, and look out for that Language Critical Period.