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Your Baby

Babies May Never Outgrow Their Native Language

1:30

How early are babies able to learn their native language? According to a new study from South Korea, as early as the first few months of life.

The study takes an interesting look at the impression that language makes on newborns and whether babies actually retain any birth language ability even if they are adopted and grow up in a different country.

For this study, adults that were adopted from South Korea as babies by Dutch-speaking families were asked to pronounce Korean consonants after a short training course.

Researchers found that the now Dutch-speaking adults exceeded expectations at Korean pronunciation when retrained after losing their birth language.

The two languages have little in common. Korean consonants are unlike those spoken in Dutch.

The participants were compared with a group of adults who had not been exposed to the Korean language as children and then rated by native Korean speakers.

Both groups performed to the same level before training, but after training the international adoptees exceeded expectations.

There was no difference between children who were adopted under six months of age - before they could speak - and those who were adopted after 17 months, when they had learned to talk.

Because of the young ages of the adopted children, researchers suggested the language knowledge retained is more abstract in nature, rather than dependent on experience.

Dr Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University in Seoul led the research.

The study is the first to show that early experiences of adopted children in their birth language, continues to give them an advantage decades later, even if they think it is forgotten, she said.

Other studies suggest that babies may learn their natural language as early as in the womb. Typically, babies begin uttering vowel sounds at about 6 weeks, but won’t be able to make words - associated with meanings - until around 12 to 16 months of age.  How early a child learns to speak is dependent on factors such as, how much parents, siblings or relatives interact and talk to them, along with good hearing and health.

''Please remember that [the] language learning process occurs very early in life, and useful language knowledge is laid down in the very early months of life as our study suggests,'' Choi said.

''Try to talk to your babies as much as possible because they are absorbing and digesting what you are saying.''

Talking to and positive interaction with your baby not only helps him or her learn language quicker, but also builds a foundation for feeling safe and valued as a unique and important member of the family. 

Story source: Helen Briggs, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38653906

Your Child

Helping Your Child Learn From Failure

2.30 to read

Do you immediately run to the rescue and try to save your child from failing? Many parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, neighbors, and school systems seem to believe that failure is simply not an option for a child these days. 

Perhaps because the idea of failure is often associated with pain and loss, parents naturally want to spare their child any suffering. It’s certainly a normal response to want to help your boy or girl achieve whatever they set out to do, but without disappointment your child’s chances of succeeding in the future diminish. Without failure, success rarely happens. Learning how to cope with disappointment, anger, frustration and sadness are a part of growing into a responsible person – whether you’re a child or an adult.

More important than not passing a test, not making the team, not being chosen for a part in the school play, not spelling a word correctly in a spelling bee, is learning how to cope with disappointment and embarrassment.

How your child responds to feelings of anger, frustration, embarrassment, sadness or low self-esteem will mostly depend on their age and maturity. Children can be taught positive coping skills that help them move past an uncomfortable event. Children also see how parents and others around them handle stress and failure. If we get angry, bossy, inconsolable, and don’t accept responsibility for our own actions, we teach our children to do the same.

Failure at one thing has often opened the door to accomplishments in other areas. Your child may not be accomplished enough to make a sports team, but he or she can run circles around others in math or science. Even though you’ve told your child they can sing like an angel since they were old enough to complete a sentence, others may find that he or she can’t really carry a tune. Your child most likely will not get the lead in the next school musical. And that’s okay. She may discover that her real talent is creating costumes out of raw material, or he may find out that nobody can build a stage set out of cardboard better than he can. Encouragement and praise for what your child can achieve goes a long way in helping them understand and deal with what they can’t achieve.

So, what if my child hasn’t discovered what they are innately good at doing? Life is not a race to excellence; it’s a process. Given enough time and experience, your child will discover his or her own hidden talent. It may take a few failures along the way to make that discovery.

Failure at first try, or second try, or many tries, can often motivate someone to practice harder, study longer, attempt a different approach or in other words – apply themselves more. Children can learn more about problem solving when they are allowed to experience different approaches.  Help your child evaluate what went wrong and how they can prevent it from occurring again by offering them choices. That’s a lot different than protecting them from experiencing the failure in the first place.

Through trial and error, then trying again and succeeding - our kids learn about patience, perseverance and satisfaction in their accomplishments.

Failure is not the opposite of success. “Failure is an event, not a person.” (Zig Ziglar) 

You’ve watched your child learn how to master sitting up, crawling, walking and eating with silverware. All along the way, a child has to make mistakes before they can get it right. Every time there was a fall or setback- most likely there was love and encouragement to try again. Parents that catch their child every time their little one loses his or her balance prevent them from ever finding their balance.

Success isn’t always about “winning.” It’s often about finding another path.

It may be painful to watch your daughter or son have to deal with an unpleasant or painful experience – but it’s something we all have to go through.  Bad relationships can help us value good relationships. Not being chosen can help us strike out on our own and discover the joy of self-reliance.

Childcare.about.com offers these tips for helping your child turn their failure into a lesson for success.

Help your child identify the emotions she feels and express those in an acceptable way. When your child is not successful, whether in the classroom or on the ball field, parents (or any adult caregiver for that matter) should be available to help them work through the emotions.

  • Give him an opportunity to talk about why he thinks things didn't go the way he wanted or expected them to go. Even youngsters can express their feelings, and one of the best things a parent can do is listen. Your child might even provide some insight into what happened that you were not aware of.
  • Provide age-appropriate activities that match your child's interests and skills. Too often, parents lose their way in expecting too much of a child at too young of an age. It really is okay if your child can't do a toe-touch in first grade or is unable to hit the ball off a tee at age 4.
  • Let your child know that winning isn't the most important thing. Give as much praise for his effort and his attitude as you do for a winning outcome.
  • Talk to your child about his strengths--the things that you observe as his positive traits. Conversations such as this can help build self-esteem in even a very young child.
  • Keep your expectations for your child reasonable and realistic. Don't expect your eight year old to master a piano piece by Beethoven in two days, just because her sister can.
  • Remember that your child watches how you respond to failures in your own life. It's okay to share your disappointment and important to show them how you learn from the experience.
  • Let your child know that you love him, win or lose. A big bear hug and a word of encouragement can ease the pain felt when he fails a test or falls down when learning how to ride his bike.

Parents can help their children mature and develop a strong character by helping them face and learn from their “failures.” Learning to fail at something with grace and grit can help your child develop into a more successful person.

Source: Robin McClure,  http://childcare.about.com/od/generaladvice/a/failing.htm

Your Child

Naps Help Preschoolers Learn Better

2.00 to read

There are two things adults envy about youngsters – their bountiful energy and their naps.

A new study says that those afternoon siestas that many preschoolers enjoy are not a waste of time.  In fact, a daily nap may improve their ability to learn by improving their memory skills.

Preschooler’s brains are busy. On a daily basis they are processing new and exciting information. Their brains are storing the input from these experiences in short-term storage areas said Rebecca Spencer, lead study author and a neuroscientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

"A nap allows information to move from temporary storage to more permanent storage, from the hippocampus to the cortical areas of the brain," she said. "You've heard the phrase, 'You should sleep on it.' Well, that's what we're talking about: Children need to process some of the input from the day."

Many of the nation's preschoolers put in longer days than do their working parents, arriving at school as early as 6:30 a.m. and getting picked up after 5 p.m., Spencer said. "We're all short on sleep, and the kid's sleep is affected by the parents' schedules," she said.

For the study, the researchers taught 40 children from six preschools in western Massachusetts a visual-spatial memory game in the morning. The children were asked to remember where nine to 12 different pictures were located on a grid.

During the afternoon, children were either encouraged to nap or to stay awake. Naps lasted about 80 minutes. Later in the afternoon and the following morning, delayed recall was tested between both groups -- children who were encouraged to sleep and those who were kept awake.

The researchers found that although the children performed similarly in the morning, when their retention was fresh, children forgot significantly more when they had not taken a nap. Those who had slept remembered 10 percent more than those who were kept awake. The next day, the kids who had napped the previous afternoon scored better than those who hadn't napped. The data showed that a child doesn't recover the memory benefit from nighttime sleep, the researchers said.

To better understand whether memories were actively processed during naps, the researchers took 14 preschoolers to a sleep lab for polysomnography, a sleep study that shows changes in the brain. The children took naps for about 70 minutes. The napping children showed signs of signals being sent to long-term memory from the brain's hippocampus.

"Thus, there was evidence of a cause-and effect relationship between signs that the brain is integrating new information and the memory benefit of a nap," Spencer said.

The study was published in the September issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Spencer is concerned about the trend in many public preschools to discontinue naps. She said naps need to be put back into the preschool day, and she wants to see exploration of ways to enhance the napping experience -- with darkened rooms and comfortable cots or pads, for example.

What’s the bottom line? "Naps are not wasted time," Spencer said.

Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_140919.html

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