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The Playground Where Youngsters Can Learn to Talk

As any parent will know, the process of helping a young child to acquire language is one of the most fascinating and exciting in the whole of parenting. Hearing young ones move from making seemingly random sounds, to semi-coherent words, through to an ever developing vocabulary; it’s a wonderful journey. There are many different techniques you can employ to aid a child’s language acquisition, from repeating key words that you want them to learn, through to reading with them, to using educational cartoons and apps. One area that we’re passionate about, which you may or may not have heard much about, is learning through play. That can even apply to language acquisition and learning to talk.

One such example of this is in Oakland, California, where a play area located at Officer Willie Wilkins Park is designed with a language enhancing twist. While it may look entirely standard on the surface, hidden within are a number of features to help teach your children how to talk. Its play area is outfitted with the standard slides and swings, but blended in with them are white boards embellished with pictures and expressions intended to get them talking.

A Community Feature

There’s a slide to slip down, inclines to move up, extensions to cross, but this playground with its conversation prompts and accentuation on talking have unlocked a new educational boost for local residents of this neighbourhood. Given that when they are only a year-and-a half-old, children from low-salary families and those from higher-pay families already show huge contrasts in their average vocabularies, the key thought here is that parents and guardians can utilise the boards to start discussions with their children while they play.

The recreation centre sits in the eastern part of the city, in an area with high poverty rates and a number of social cohesion issues, which can impact on the time and ability that parental figures have to help their children with learning to talk.

Basics of Language Acquisition

At the age of three months, your child pays attention to your vocal sound and starts responding to familiar voices, as well as noticing music. Many newborn children seem to incline toward a lady’s voice over a man’s, while at the age of six months, a child often starts chattering with various sounds and also begins to recognise when their name is used. They also know their innate verbal keys, able to use their tone of speech to express you that they are joyful or miserable.

Around the age of nine months, most children begin to understand a couple of fundamental words like “No” and “Bye.” Following a (usually extended) period of tuning into your child’s ‘jibber jabber’ it’s an exciting moment when they at long last says their initial word/s; whether it’s Dada, Mama, or Baba. This procedure is a characteristic piece of advancement.

Bridging the Gap

Experts suggest that there is an ever-increasing “word crevice” that exists amongst low and high-income families. Children from poorer backgrounds tend to comprehend, and utilise fewer words by the time they reach school age, which puts them at an immediate disadvantage and can have long-haul negative impacts. The initial years of a child’s life are pivotal for a range of developmental issues, with learning to talk being just one. This is why it’s so vital to aid a child’s vocabulary during this window.

The play area in Willie Wilkins Park, with its educational white boards adorned with pictures and expressions intended to get individuals talking, is a tool for the vital young people who are still “blank slates” with regards to securing information that can help them later on in life. Credit to this local area for seeing the dual benefits of learning and play, something we emphasise with every project we take on and hope to see more of across the world.

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