Conversational turns build brains

Talking with your child, turn-taking in simple interactions back-and-forth, with no more than five seconds in between, is crucial for a child developing and learning new skills. 

We call these interactions conversational turns, and they are a practical example of the ‘serve-and-return’ principle that is fundamental for brain development in early childhood. 

They also include any speech-like, non-crying sound your child makes before they learn to speak – even if it sounds like nonsense!

Conversational turns themselves are a measure that can predict numerous outcomes for a child throughout their lives. Increased conversational turns between a child and their caregiver in the early years have been shown to be associated with:

  • Brain structure and function 
    Linked to activation of the brain’s main ‘language centre’ and increased strength of connections between other language regions
  • Broader vocabulary
    Conversational turns in the first three years have been linked to broader vocabulary in children once they reach preschool  
  • Reading ability
  • Social-emotional development
    Children who experienced more conversational turns had increased emotional regulation and communication. 
  • Higher IQ

Simply, the more you talk with your child, and interact with them allowing time for their response, you are giving them the attention and support they need to have the best start in life.  

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