Thursday, February 28, 2013


Our daughter recently sent us a short video of our sweet granddaughter. Given that an ocean separates us, and does not facilitate a quick stop-by to see how she is growing, videos are such a great way to get little glimpses into this new life.  This most recent shows this 2 month old baby trying with all her might to vocalize.  Her mouth works to get into a shape to form words, her eyebrows lift as she really really tries to talk.  And, of course, these dear little ooohs and ahhs come out of her mouth.

Baby talk!  Isn’t it great?

Among the milestones we parents mark are the ways in which our children learned words, and then strung them together into sentences.  Parents record the first word a child says.  Many parents even save some of the precious pronunciations a child makes.  We still joke about our daughter saying CHIK-UMP for chipmunk.  Somehow, it seemed like a suitable renaming. 

A few years ago, I entertained the thought of pursuing a doctoral degree.  We live near a campus of the Penn State University, which offers a doctoral program in adult education.  Now, while I didn’t actually enroll in classes, I started to generate ideas for a possible dissertation topic.  And I came up with one.

I have been fascinated with the way we teach children language by reading or saying nursery rhymes to them.  Many of these rhymes are silly and sometimes nonsensical.  But they do help teach language by repetition, alliteration, rhyming.  So the topic I had in mind was to evaluate the correlation between exposure to nursery rhymes and language acquisition.  Of course, I did not get to a stage of collecting data, so I don’t know if there is a statistically valid correlation.  It stands to reason that the more culturally rich a child’s environs are when she is learning to speak, the quicker her language skills will develop.

For now, my hypothesis about nursery rhymes playing a critical part in language development will have to go unresearched, but maybe I can do a mini-experiment.  You can bet that I plan to get our granddaughter some edition of Mother Goose Nursery rhymes.  And, that I will most certainly read them aloud to her every chance I get.

Can’t wait to hear more baby talk.


warriormom said...

Sounds like a fascinating idea! I'm sure you will enjoy your mini-experiment. We are enjoying lots of babbling at our house.

Anonymous said...

I remember when you were a baby teaching yu "This little piggy" etc. and when we came to your little toe, "This little piggy said wee wee wee all the way home" you reached down, took hold of your little toe and sais. "wee, wee, wee". Father "C"

Anonymous said...

We have that same book. :)

I think my kids all preferred Dr. Seuss.

NCmountainwoman said...

How lucky you are to be a grandmother in these high-tech days. What fun to see each little milestone. We have that Mother Goose book too. In fact, we have four boxes of children's books stored away. Hope we will have a grandchild one day who will love them as much as our own children did.

Ginnie said...

It's a whole new lease on life with a baby in the picture. It will be interesting to watch the progress ... keep us in the loop.

Jayne said...

When your child does not learn incidentally, and language has to be taught with repetition, things like this are invaluable. Glad with today's technology, you get to share in milestones like this even if you can't "be there." :c)

Anvilcloud said...

Could be. I think it would be difficult to research.

troutbirder said...

I remember this "subject" well with two sons... And I see your reading Flight Behavior. I did love that book. What a terrific writer...:)

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I suspect that having an adult use the language in exciting and dramatic ways with a child is more important that the content of nursery stories.

In English we have such wonderful nursery rhymes I have tried to find out if other languages (cultures) have any and as many.

Another language interest of mine is school yard chants. This seems to be the last of an oral tradition in our society. Children seem to learn these without being taught. I wonder if the electronic toy era will see these disappear. I did find a French Canadian woman who has written about these in French.