The University of Wollongong’s Early Start Discovery Space officially launched its newest attraction, Crawlers’ Beach, on Wednesday 29 March with a talk on “Talking to your baby”.
Crawlers’ Beach is for children aged from birth to two years and features activities designed to stimulate their physical, intellectual and social development while they play. The talk was the first in Early Start’s Speakers Series for 2017, and was open to Discovery Space members and the public.
“Talking to your Baby” featured Professor Marc de Rosnay, Academic Director and Professor of Child Development at Early Start, and Judy Daunt, Community Links Coordinator – The Early Years. In their talks, Professor de Rosnay and Ms Daunt focused on the years of rapid development from birth to two years, providing research-backed information on ways in which people can communicate, interact and play with their babies and toddlers to positively influence their development. The session included practical examples of how these principles have been integrated into the Crawlers’ Beach experience, and how to apply them at home.
Professor de Rosnay research focusses on the emotional and social development of children from birth to 8 years.
“I work in a number of areas in children’s conceptual development, in particular how their understanding of the world affects how they act, and how we can interact with them to improve their understanding of the world,” Professor de Rosnay said.
“I’m very interested in communication and how communication is used in the child’s self-regulatory capacity – how they control their thoughts feelings and actions. If we talk to children in different ways do they come to understand the world in different ways and act in the world different ways? There is very good evidence to suggest that is the case.”
In her talk, Ms Daunt drew on her 33 years’ experience in early childhood education.
“I’m shared some ideas and practical examples of activities parents can play with their child to promote language development,” she said.
“For example, ‘peekaboo’. Everyone knows peekaboo, it causes lots of laughter from a baby which causes us to laugh in return. It never gets old. So why is it that babies are constantly rediscovering peekaboo for themselves as we rediscover the joy and laughter it brings?
“Research in child development tells us 85% of the language that we use as adults is there before we start school and 50% of it is there by the time we’re three years old. Therefore, language development in early years is critical.
“To foster and support child development in early years we must recognise the parent as the first teacher. I believe the parent is the ‘expert’ in regards to their child. All children are born with unique personalities, in unique situations and with unique genes, however there is research-backed information that supports different activities we can do to assist with language development.”
(Source: The University of Wollongong)