by Stella Bataille, Director/Founder Club Petit Pierrot – Fun French Lessons
Parents eagerly await their child’s first tentative steps and their first words, but what many do not realise is these milestone moments are actually connected.
Until relatively recently, scientists believed that walking and talking happen completely independently. Now, research shows they’re interlinked.
So why is this?
Learning language is complex.
* First babies use their mouths to make sounds like blowing raspberries.
* Then they babble, say their first word, build sentences and much later, hold conversations.
Research shows that before they do any of these, they usually change the way they move.
A couple of weeks before babies start to babble, they begin to move their hands and arms rhythmically. Once babbling starts, these actions tend to stop.
Sitting increases lung capacity and repositions the lower jaw and tongue. This allows toddlers to make more sounds and it’s at this point speech patterns usually become more complex.
Crawling means that children are more likely to encounter danger and hear adults shouting at them to “watch the stairs,” “be careful” or “put that down.” This is when they learn to communicate with objects at a distance – i.e. their terrified parents!
Walkers, by their very nature, carry more objects than crawlers. This may seem insignificant, but it actually has a big impact on learning to talk. They interact with these objects and often hold them out for someone to take.
These are just some of the many connections scientists have made between movement and language development.
And they now say the two should be viewed as “two connected cogs within a large, complex system – each dependent on the other and working together to make small steps in development.” (University of London)
Can we help?
Parents can, very easily, help to develop these skills. Playing games and sensory rich activities, singing and dancing encourage movement and instruction following and are a great way to develop language.
Play with your children. Build a tower with blocks explaining what’s happening at every stage – “we’re getting higher,” “let’s put a red one on next,” “oh no, they’ve all fallen down.”
Build a den. This encourages problem solving and coordination. Talk to them about the objects they’re using and what they are putting where.
As you can see these things aren’t new, or indeed complex. Parents all over the world will be doing them already. Many, I suspect, without realising they’re helping to make those connections between movement and speech.
This isn’t new for me either. It’s something I’ve practised in my teaching from the beginning. Children aren’t made to sit still and listen. That’s not how they learn.
The need to experience – to touch, to feel, to mix, to pour, to move and to sing. These things enrich their environment and help them develop.
Movement is crucial for learning and that’s why I’m teaming up with Amanda’s Action Club. Amanda, like me, is also celebrating her quarter century in the children’s activity sector. A lot has changed since we started out back in 1995 but our core values remain the same.
“We sing, we dance, we move and we have fun” is Amanda’s motto and she believes passionately that children should be active. Her aim is to ignite a passion for fitness, good health and movement in children and their parents, whilst at the same time, developing language and social skills.
“Jouer – Chanter – Danser – Parler” (Play Sing Dance Speak) is ours! For me, and my team at Club Petit Pierrot, it’s all about creating the right interactive environment – one where a child has fun, flourish and is encouraged to communicate. We experiment, explore and as a result, the children truly absorb French without realising it!
Both of us use movement to develop language and both of us create fun, interactive learning environments to enable children to be happy and healthy in body and in mind.
And the results really do speak for themselves!
We Hope to see you on 27th July from 3.45pm to 4.45pm in Notting Hill
A bientôt !
Details and booking can be found on our website – Click here!
Booking details here