Playing: what happens when toddlers play with other children?

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Playing seems to be associated with the word learning process of toddlers according to a new study, and this is interestingly, playing with other children, not on your own or with parents. Toddlers are surprisingly good at processing the speech of other young children, and toddlers who have more exposure to other children, such as those in daycare, may be particularly good at certain word learning skills.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo examined the word processing skills of toddlers who spent most of their time with adults compared to those who have more exposure to groups of children. They focused on how well the toddlers understood the speech of other children. it was observed that the toddlers who had more playing time and exposure with other kids were considerably better at associating a new word to a new object, which is an important part of word learning.


Playing and word learning

It was studied during the course of two experiments with over 88 children that toddlers are great at responding to words that are said by other toddlers and that this is true for toddlers who do not get enough time at playing with other toddlers. This means that they could use this kind of speech, in addition to adult speech, to learn about their native languages. However, they also found an intriguing difference in how toddlers processed new words that were related to how much exposure they had to other children. The majority of studies focus on how toddlers learn from adult speakers. But, in the light of this, it’s important to explore how toddlers process the speech of children of various ages and how much they use speech from other children to guide their language learning.


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