How do children respond to a mother’s voice?

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved A mother’s voice has special power. It can provide comfort — and improve outcomes — for babies hospitalized in the NICU. It can shape the way infants process language in the brain. And it can help children cope with pain and stress. What happens when a baby Read More »

How to communicate with your teenager: Key signals to send

Families are better off when teenagers communicate openly with their parents. But how do we inspire better communication? An experimental study shows the way: We need to provide kids with crucial signals of active, supportive listening. Not only does it make kids feel better. It also encourages them to confide in us.

The effects of television on learning to speak: Is it helpful or harmful?

toddler watching television

© 2009 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What are the effects of television on language learning? Studies report a link between TV and language development in young children. The more time kids spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk. What’s going on? Some people conclude that the effects of Read More »

Choosing books for beginning readers: Sometimes less is more

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The most helpful books for beginning readers keep fancy details to a minimum, and this applies to imagery as well as to text. “Busy” illustrations can be distracting, and interfere with a young child’s reading comprehension. Books designed for new and emerging readers are sometimes very exciting Read More »

The newborn senses: What can babies feel, see, hear, smell, and taste?

© 2017 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved How do newborn senses compare with our own? Babies don’t see colors quite like we do, and their vision is blurry. They have more trouble picking out speech from background noise. Yet newborns are fascinated by the visual world, and they show remarkable abilities to Read More »

The science of gestures: We learn faster when we talk with our hands

Gestures aren't just hand-waving. Learn how hand movements can help babies, school children, and even adults learn.

© 2017-2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Do you motion with your hands when you talk? Most people do. The movements come naturally to us, and often happen without any conscious planning. We speak, and our hands get into the act. Undoubtedly, a lot of this behavior is learned. If you raise a child Read More »

Can babies sign before they can speak?

baby waving hand in front of face by David Goehring / flickr ccby2

© 2019 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED It’s one of the most common assumptions that people make about baby sign language — that babies can sign before they can speak. But is it true? The answer is: It might be true, but we don’t know for sure, and skepticism is warranted. Studies confirm that Read More »

When do babies say their first words?

© 2018 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Babies make lots of communicative noises, but coos, gurgles, and cries aren’t true speech. When do babies say their first words? When do they develop the ability to express themselves with language? Experts used to say babies reached this milestone around the age of 12 months. But Read More »