Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's in a Name?

So I've been reading the book Amazing Minds by Jan Faull, which talks about simple things parents can do to nuture their child's mind during the newborn and toddler years. Being a parent of a 16-month-old, I'm always interested to learn about the way a child's brain develops and see it play out in my son. Right now he's learning new words like crazy, and one of the first words he recognized was his name.

Research shows that babies as young as 4 and 1/2 months old can recognize their names. According to Faull, using your toddler's name in conversation can be a powerful tool to support and reinforce behavior. So when your child does something good, like help clean up her toys, use her name when talking about how she helped and she'll pay attention and likely repeat the behavior. When your child gets a little older, she'll be able to recognize her name in print. And when she starts to learn letter names and sounds, the most important letter to her will be the first letter in her name.

Knowing letter names and sounds is an important precurser to learning how to read. So start with the letters in your child's name and point them out on signs, menus, in books, wherever. Talk about what sounds those letters make and look for objects that begin with the same sounds. In our weekly storytimes, each child has a nametag, and it's amazing to watch them learn which one is theirs - they always look for that first letter! Sometimes they can even recognize that letter in another child's tag. So don't underestimate the importance of a name - it's more of a learning tool than you think. And have fun helping your child recognize her name and everything that goes into it! Guest post by Shelly P.

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