Being the proud father of two kids and the husband of someone who is very talented musically (sadly I cannot call musicality one of my talents), I have had the pleasure of plenty of children’s songs. Singing is not only fun and can connect your next generation to a vital cultural thread, but singing has been at least anecdotally linked to the development of early language skills in children. But since we happen to live in a monolingual American English household, just about all of the songs we’ve sung to and with our children, have been in English. In the vein of being a hardcore language geek who deeply appreciates language diversity, I thought it’d be fun and enriching to provide you with a compendium of classic children’s songs in a variety of the world’s languages. As you sample the linked song clips, try to identify themes in the tunes, as they compare to the songs you came to love as a child and may also sing to your children. These could be melodic themes, onomatopoeia, alliteration, or content themes. Or, you could simply just enjoy them!
Every parenting book you’ve ever read tells you to never, never, never leave your baby unattended while you hunt frantically around your house for a diaper. And on this topic, every parenting book you have ever read is exactly correct. When my daughter was 4 months old, I laid her down on the sofa and went looking for my diaper bag. She’d never rolled over before; what could go wrong? In less than a heartbeat, she’d rolled right off that sofa and smashed her head right onto our hardwood floor. In a cold panic, I rushed her to the pediatrician’s office.
How did we, as humans, come to dominate the earth? I fundamentally believe that the core reason our species is top dog, so to speak, is our ability to communicate complex thought processes with one another very efficiently. We are not the fastest species on earth; we are certainly not the strongest; and the pets we have in our homes generally have more acute senses than we do. Yet we have this ability, unique in nature, to speak. This has allowed us to master the art of cooperation and in turn, to exploit natural economies of scale. From an evolutionary standpoint, these complementary skills for communication — one a cognitive skill (language) and the other a motor skill (speech) — are a tour-de-force of coordinated systems. Speech evolution and the origin of language may not be something you think about everyday, but read on to understand why you are even more awesome than you realized.
If your child needs to see a speech therapist, there are a ton of great resources to help you through the process. Teachers, pediatricians, ASHA, and the all-knowing Google can guide you through the basics: from what’s an SLP to how to do I understand my IEP? But, there are times when you just want to hear about the experience from another parent. How did they react to the idea of speech therapy? How do they find the time for it? What is Speech Therapy like? What did their other kids think about their big brother having special appointments? Did they ever get a hang of all the acronyms? How do other families go from “I think we need to see someone” to “Speech therapy, yup, that’s a regular part of our family life.”
As with most things, there are common misconceptions about speech and language development in children, undoubtedly confusing all of us parents! Should we be reading the Wall Street Journal to our babies in utero? Should we feel self-conscious when engaging in baby talk with our 6 month old? Are we doing damage? We are here to help clarify some of the most common False Facts about language development in your child. Of course, it’s important that you are patient. All parents can’t wait until that day when their baby begins to talk! BUT, each child progresses at a different rate, so be patient, it will come. Your best bet is to understand what is true and what is false about language development in your child.