How Emergence of Language Supports Mathematics and Science Learning
...language is a major instrument of thought.—Jerome Bruner (1966)
The perception of sounds begins before birth. In the womb, the child can hear sounds. The mother’s voice resonates throughout her body. The child recognizes her voice and at birth feels an attachment to it. Over the next several months the child learns to recognize attitudes from voices. A pleasant voice initiates giggles; a harsh voice causes flinching or crying. Soon it is obvious that the child recognizes voices of familiar people.
Experiences of infancy occur with limited verbal development. Although infants have not yet developed the mental processes that allow them to verbalize with words what they are thinking, they do respond to a variety of stimuli. They are learning how to react to the world around them and how the world reacts to them.
Observing small infants’ vocalizations, body movements, and gestures gives us clues about what they are internalizing (e.g., Piaget, 1954). The differentiated crying gives us clues to what they are trying to tell us. They are “saying” that they are hungry, cold, wet, lonely, or frightened. When you talk animatedly or lovingly and soothingly to infants, they sometimes respond excitedly with their whole body.
Adults have wonderful “conversations” with infants by soliciting their reactions to pleasant, enthusiastic talks and actions. Infants respond with laughter and giggles and many physical movements. We view this as the child taking in the experience and appreciating the interchange. The child views this as a form of attention and communication that they are important, involved, cared for, and loved.
Although the development of speech comes between 2 and 6 years of age (Gordon & Williams Browne, 2004), infants have an amazing ability to respond and communicate verbally to people before that time. From crying, to cooing, to babbling, to using one-word utterances, babies experiment with gestures and making sounds with their mouth to communicate meaning for things. For example, a baby may open and close the hands to mean “pick me up,” twist the hand at the wrist to mean “all gone,” or make a sniffing sound to mean “flower.” Adults replicate these gestures and sounds to communicate with the infant.
© ______ 2009, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Social Cognitive Theory
- The Homework Debate
- GED Math Practice Test 1