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Dec 14, 2009

Ten Reasons to Make Time for Play

How children learn is as important as what children learn—and what children learn and take away from play experiences is endless!

1. Play nurtures your child’s healthy social-emotional development. Playing with peers helps children become more emotionally aware. Children also practice self-regulation, empathy and understanding during play, which leads to more independent group management strategies like sharing, taking turns, etc… (Honig, 2007; Hirsch-Pasek, et al, 2009).

2. Your child practices everyday problem solving skills during play. Problem-solving skills help determine goals and plan how to achieve them. Open-ended play experiences provide children with multiple opportunities to experiment, explore and manipulate objects and materials in different ways as they work towards a specific goal (AAP, 2007; Koenig, 2007).

3. Creativity and wonder spark from child-driven play. According to David Elkind, Ph.D, “Self-initiated play nourishes the child’s curiosity, imagination, and creativity, and these abilities are like muscles—if you don’t use them, you lose them” (2008).

4. Play is integral to your child’s academic success. Children’s language, early literacy, math and science understanding are stimulated from early play experiences. Block play and guided play provide children exposure to spatial and numerical concepts (Hirsch-Pasek, et al, 2009). Additionally, when a part of the child’s academic environment, play helps nurture learning readiness and learning behaviors (AAP, 2007).

5. Active play nurtures your child’s physical development. “In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies” (AAP, 2007). Play also provides children opportunities to practice balance, dexterity and other still developing gross motor skills (Koenig, 2007).

6. Play provides your child with an outlet to explore, create and learn at her own pace. Fred Rogers said, “When children build and make things, they can feel more in control not only of the outside world but their inner selves as well…they’re creating from their own ideas!” (2002). Play also often allows children the opportunity to learn in a more relaxed, less pressured situation or environment.

7. Spending time together during play helps nurture your parent-child bond. Elkind states that there are three basic drives that lead us to a full, happy and productive life. These are play, love and work. As you participate in your child’s play, you communicate support and unconditional love to your child. You also demonstrates care and reassure your child that what he is doing is important (AAP, 2007; Elkind, 2008).

8. Your child learns about himself and the world around him through play. Play allows children the opportunity to interact, learn and ask questions about the world around them (NAEYC, 1997; AAP, 2007). “When we offer our children opportunities to explore this new and exciting world in their own time and at their own pace, we open them up to powerful learning experiences they could not encounter in any other way” (Elkind, 2008).

9. See the world through your child’s eyes by simply watching her play. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Observe your child as she plays to get a better glimpse of what her skills and interests are. As you watch, think about “why” and “how” questions you might ask to challenge your child’s thinking or help her problem solve.

10. Play is enjoyable and fun! Children learn best through play perhaps because “Learning and play are not incompatible—learning takes place best when children are engaged and enjoying themselves”

(Hirsch-Pasek, et al, 2009).

Dec 8, 2009

Babies 'cry in mother's tongue'

German researchers say babies begin to pick up the nuances of their parents' accents while still in the womb.
The researchers studied the cries of 60 healthy babies born to families speaking French and German. The French newborns cried with a rising "accent" while the German babies' cries had a falling inflection.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, they say the babies are probably trying to form a bond with their mothers by imitating them. The findings suggest that unborn babies are influenced by the sound of the first language that penetrates the womb.

Cry melodies

It was already known that foetuses could memorise sounds from the outside world in the last three months of pregnancy and were particularly sensitive to the contour of the melody in both music and human voices.

Earlier studies had shown that infants could match vowel sounds presented to them by adult speakers, but only from 12 weeks of age.

Kathleen Wermke from the University of Wurzburg, who led the research, said: "The dramatic finding of this study is that not only are human neonates capable of producing different cry melodies, but they prefer to produce those melody patterns that are typical for the ambient language they have heard during their foetal life.

Newborns are highly motivated to imitate their mother's behaviour in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding
Kathleen Wermke, Unversity of Wurzburg "Contrary to orthodox interpretations, these data support the importance of human infants' crying for seeding language development."

Dr Wermke's team recorded and analysed the cries of 60 healthy newborns when they were three to five days old.
Their analysis revealed clear differences in the shape of the infants' cry melodies that corresponded to their mother tongue.
They say the babies need only well-co-ordinated respiratory-laryngeal systems to imitate melody contours and not the vocal control that develops later.

Dr Wermke said: "Newborns are highly motivated to imitate their mother's behaviour in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding. "Because melody contour may be the only aspect of their mother's speech that newborns are able to imitate, this might explain why we found melody contour imitation at that early age."

Debbie Mills, a reader in developmental cognitive neuroscience at Bangor University, said: "This is really interesting because it suggests that they are producing sounds they have heard in the womb and that means learning and that it is not an innate behaviour.

"Many of the early infant behaviours are almost like reflexes that go away after the first month and then come back later in a different form.

"It would be interesting to look at these babies after a month and see if their ability to follow the melodic contours of their language is still there."

Dec 3, 2009


Everybody loves... Babies. This visually stunning new movie simultaneously follows four babies around the world - from first breath to first steps. From Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo, Babies joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us all.