CORRIDOR GAZETTE ARTICLE 23 ON EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT APRIL 2019

LANGUAGE NUTRITION

Language nutrition I hear you say! What on earth is that? Someone must be confused!

NO – the term is used deliberately! Just as healthy food nourishes a growing baby’s body, language nutrition nourishes a baby’s brain. The quantity and quality of nourishing language is as critical to baby’s brain development as nourishing food, and will have a direct impact on baby’s social, emotional, cognitive/intellectual development, as well as language, literacy and the ability to learn. AND because the first 3 years of life are the period of most dramatic brain growth and development, nourishing language is most important in these critically important early years.

In the first 3 years of life, the baby’s brain architecture is formed, the neural pathways established and the foundations of all learning, behaviour and health are laid. And all this depends on the quality of relationships that that precious baby has with the adults who care for him or her. What does this mean for parents and caregivers? In simple terms, your baby’s healthy, happy, successful future is set up in those very early years. How? Through the way you love, care for, protect, talk to, sing with, tell stories and play with your little one from birth!

The quality time you spend communicating with your baby, in all your everyday activities of feeding, bathing, dressing, soothing and playing, will set the foundation for cognitive ability, literacy, school readiness and ultimately, educational achievement. It will have a profound impact on his or her school performance, IQ and success in life. In fact research demonstrates that the single strongest predictor of a child’s academic success is the quality and quantity of words spoken to baby in the first 3 years of life!

Because babies can’t talk at birth, the first communication – the talking, singing, story-telling will have to come from you, the parent or caregiver. Baby’s first communication includes eye contact, facial expressions, crying, smiling, laughing, touch and more. Really observe your baby, listen to her and learn to understand her communication. Crying doesn’t always mean baby is hungry. He may be tired, cold, wet, frightened, have a sore tummy or just need a hug and to feel close to you. Use every opportunity to interact and communicate with your baby in a loving and nurturing way. You are investing in her brain development and her future!

Early exposure to repeated, responsive, language-rich interactions with your baby forms the basis of Language Nutrition and will have a lasting impact on your little one and his or her future!

LOVE, PLAY TALK

Learn more about what you can do to change your child’s future by listening weekly to LOVE, PLAY TALK, the radio programme on Nkomazi FM aired EVERY Thursday from 11 to 11.30am and brought to you by Ilifa Labantwana, RCL FOODS and the Do More Foundation. Each week Nkomazi FM hosts a guest speaker to deal with a different topic to support you, the parent of a young child, give your child the best start in life.

The LOVE, PLAY, TALK radio programme is part of the RCL FOODS  sponsored LEAVE NO YOUNG CHILD BEHIND early childhood development initiative in Nkomazi Wards 16 and 19 that aims to ensure every young child in these wards has access to improved quality of essential services so that they get the very best start in life. And you, the parent, have a critically important role to play!

Get more information from the following websites:

Do listen every week and give your little one the best start in life!

PAM PICKEN

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST