An article in the October issue of Pediatrics reports the results of a recent research study that examined the impact of children’s early language experiences on cognitive and language skills at ages 9–13. The researchers looked at the total number of adult words heard and the number of turn-taking interactions during adult-child conversations in three different age groups: 2–17 months, 18–24 months, and 25 months and older.
The authors found that conversational turn-taking that occurred between 18–24 months of age had the most significant impact on children’s IQs, verbal comprehension, and receptive and expressive vocabulary in later years. This finding highlights the importance of early child-directed speech and supports previous research that found turn-taking between adults and children has a greater impact on literacy development than the number of words children are exposed to. The conclusions of the study support enhancing parent education around increasing adult-child turn-taking, especially among children 18–24 months old.