I never cease to be amazed at how smart kids can be. Something that particularly impresses me is how much progress they make in language development all on their own through what is called “fast mapping.”
Remember when your child was a baby and you were standing in front of her saying, “Mama! Mama! Bottle! Bottle!” trying to force one word at a time into her vocabulary? Now that she’s three, four, or five years old, her vocabulary is increasing by dozens of words every month without anyone doing any formal instruction. She simply hears how words are employed in conversation, figures out the meaning all on her own, and places them in her linguistic repertoire.
Of course, that doesn’t mean parents no longer have an important role to play in enhancing their little one’s language development. But at this point, all you have to do is immerse her in a variety of language-rich environments so she can advance in leaps and bounds by herself.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.