Yes, I’m a writer and most of you who read this blog may be writers too, so I must explain that I’m not advocating talking instead of writing. I’m encouraging talking over not-talking. Action might speak louder than words, but words have the power to change lives, too.
About a year ago I wrote a blog post titled, WORDS THAT SAVE LIVES, based on a magazine article I’d read. The author cited studies that showed children who were talked to, and read to, by their parents, were more likely to succeed in school and in life than those who were not.
A more recent article on the subject points to a study that the more words a baby hears before the age of three the higher his I.Q. will become. However, here’s the shocking thing: words heard on television or other media actually have a detrimental effect.
“Okay,” you say, “but what can you talk about when the little one is staring at the lights, kicking his feet, or falling asleep?” The answer is, it doesn’t matter. The very fact Junior is hearing words, even if he doesn’t know what they mean right now, plus the obvious attention of his mother or father is beneficial.
Later, bed-time reading can be a nightly ritual, but children should be talked to any time of day, all day. What to talk about? Children love stories, and they love real stories even more. All families have moments when interesting things happened, so tell them where their grandparents lived, the interesting things their uncle did when traveling, the jobs their great-aunt took to earn money for college. Family stories should be shared to keep the child in touch with her past, as well as improve her vocabulary.
My husband’s aunt was a schoolteacher in a logging camp in Oregon in 1913 and she never failed to tell of those adventures whenever children were around. Those stories led to the memoir I wrote about her, THE GREEN BOUGH. However, you don‘t have to put your stories into a book. Just talking about them may make your grandchildren smarter. Of course, if you do put those real or made-up stories into print, that’s good too.