Being a chatterbox around your children ‘boosts their IQ and increases their cognitive skills’ because it encourages their understanding of language
- Children exposed to large amounts of speech found to be more intelligent
- Had better non-verbal skills such as reasoning, numeracy and shape awareness
- Researchers from York University recorded 107 pre-schoolers for 16 hours a day
Being a chatterbox could boost your child’s intelligence, according to new research.
It found youngsters exposed to large amounts of speech by their parents had higher IQs and better cognitive skills.
The children, aged two to four, also tended to have better non-verbal skills such as reasoning, numeracy and shape awareness.
Additionally, the study found children who interacted with adults that used a diverse vocabulary knew a greater variety of words themselves.
Researchers suggest greater exposure to language forces youngsters to learn what words and phrases mean.
Young kids exposed to large amounts of speech by their parents have higher IQs and better cognitive skills, new research has found (file image)
Scientists from York University’s Department of Education fitted tiny audio recorders into the clothing of 107 pre-schoolers aged between two and four.
Their interactions with parents and other caregivers were recorded at home over three days for up to 16 hours per day.
Parents were also asked to complete activities with their children, including drawing, copying and matching tasks, designed to test their child’s cognitive skills.
Lead author and PhD student Katrina d’Apice said: ‘We found the quantity of adult spoken words that children hear is positively associated with their cognitive ability.’
‘Using the audio recorders allowed us to study real-life interactions between young children and their families in an unobtrusive way within the home environment rather than a lab setting.
DOES BEING BILINGUAL BOOST BRAIN POWER?
Changing brain’s white matter
Research published by the University of Kent in 2015 found that learning a second language as a child can change the brain’s white matter.
These ‘higher levels of structural integrity’ were in areas responsible for language learning and semantic processing.
The findings mirror observations from previous studies that found these improvements in people who learned a second language from before the age of 10.
Boosts problem solving and memory
A study by researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle in 2016 found that the brains of babies exposed to two languages benefit from an extra boost even before they can utter a word.
Their findings showed that growing up in a home or environment where they are listening to more than one language being spoken improved a child’s problem solving skills and memory.
The scientists claim that the development of these skills start by the time babies are 11 months old and are ready to say their first words.
‘However, further research is needed to explore the reasons behind this link – it could be greater exposure to language provides more learning opportunities for children.
‘But it could also be the case more intelligent children evoke more words from adults in their environment.’
The study also analysed the recordings to look at the impact different parenting styles might have on the children’s behaviour.
Ms d’Apice said positive parenting – which is responsive and encourages exploration and self-expression – was linked to children showing fewer signs of restlessness, aggressiveness and disobedience.
Senior author Professor Sophie von Stumm, who is based in the same lab, said: ‘This study is the largest naturalistic observation of early life home environments to date.
‘We found the quantity of adult spoken words children were exposed to varied greatly within families.
‘Some kids heard twice as many words on one day as they did on the next.
‘The study highlights the importance of treating early life experiences as dynamic and changeable rather than static entities.
‘Approaching research in this way will help us understand the interplay between environmental experiences and children’s differences in development.’
Evidence is growing about how language fuels brain development much earlier than previously thought.
Learning a second language at a young age has long been known to boost brainpower.
But a US study three years ago found the white matter of babies exposed to two languages benefit from this extra boost – even before they can’t utter a word.
Just growing up in a home where they are listening to more than one language being spoken could improve a child’s problem solving skills and memory, said the scientists.