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children playing alone develops language skills
Thread poster: Jeff Allen

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:11
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
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Nov 23, 2005

My wife and I use the OPOL approach with our children (one 3 years and the other 4 months). She heard or read a couple a weeks ago that children who are able to play alone (by themselves) tend to develop their language "production" (ie, speaking) skills faster. This is because as they are playing (with no one else present), they talk to themselves.

And on the contrary, children who always want to be around parents and other people, and who do not play by themselves, do not develop the language production skills as fast.

I've not heard or read about this idea before. Any comments on it from the Multilingual Families readers?

Jeff
http://jeffallen.chez.tiscali.fr/about-jeffallen.htm


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:11
German to English
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Interesting... Nov 24, 2005

My thoughts on the subject:

I've never heard of that particular study (or theory), but as long as the child is not left alone for too long or too often, I don't doubt that children learn at accelerated rates while playing. In fact, I notice that I - still - learn much more and much more quickly when I'm having fun or learning something that I like, i.e. find interesting.

It also doesn't surprise me much that children play most freely when they play alone. As soon as a second person is in the vicinity I imagine that a portion of the brain's work is distracted from repetitive learning by observing and (at least subconsciously) mimicking the other person.

I imagine that a lot of this information is stored to be repeated (and thus learned) later during play.

If no one is around or she doesn't know anyone is watching, my daughter can spend an unbelievable amount of time repeating the same word or phrase over and over, sometimes in verse or as a song, sometimes high and sometimes low - eventually, she is bound to get it right.

[Edited at 2005-11-24 23:19]


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cisternas  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:11
English to Spanish
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my experience Nov 24, 2005

I have never heard about it. But I can tell you something related with this approach.
My little daughter (she is 5 now) started to talk at the age of 13 months, I mean, repeating words clearly and making short phrases. She spent most of time with me. When she was 3 months old, I returned to work. Luckily, my bosses allowed me to take her with me to the office (I was alone in an office). For that reason, she used to played alone with her toys. She stayed with me until she was 2 years old. Since then, I can say (and it is not because she is my daughter) she has developed languages skills I had never imagined. She has a huge vocabulary considering her age and her pronunciation...is wonderful in Spanish as well as in English

[Edited at 2005-11-24 23:43]


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:11
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
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don't worry... Nov 29, 2005

My children's example is quite the reverse.

My elder, who was an outgoing, lively child (alas, now grown up) hated to be alone for a second, so much so that once he climbed upstairs after me sobbingly when about 8 month old and wasn't even a good crawler yet. He had to be entertained, played with, until he could push cars all over the place.
At one year old he could say a lot, and by the time his brother came along, when he was 21 month, he could speak beautifully.

Young brother played happily with his fingers, toys, anything, as long as we left him alone. He loved to entertain himself. I can tell you that after having his demanding brother I was grateful for that. But he virtually would not speak until he was two. Admittedly, when he did, he came out with full sentences.

It was simply a matter of temperament. One quick, demanding, extrovert, the other slower, quiet, observant, solitary.

I have one rule I made up for myself and like to pass on to any new parent. OBSERVE your child all the time, and cater for his/her requirements. (I DON'T mean give in to their whims.)

What I mean is, that during their development they go through phases all the time, some very short, some longer. These phases even repeat themselves at different levels.
One day they become interested and concentrate on grabbing objects, the next few days on colours, sitting up, saying a few words, standing up, running. They really concentrate on learning one skill, sometimes just for an hour, sometimes for days.
When they want to do something, you have to notice it and accomodate that, without overdoing it. If you do that, you and they will have a happy time and they will learn new skills as and when they are ready for it. It then becomes miraculously easy.
If you don't notice these phases and go against their interest, and ignore - say potty training - when they want it, but want to train them when they are busy learning something else, the result is failure and frustration all around.

I think my theory differs from the usual textbooks in so much that I wouldn't say 'at this age the child is ready to learn this or that'. They all have their own 'timetable'. It is our job to notice and accomodate that, catch the opportunity if you like.

So if they want to play, let them. Don't disturb them, if they concentrate on something. But of course, talk to them, as much as you can. They have to hear speech in order to learn it.


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xxxKrittie
English
My child plays alone!! Apr 18, 2007

Jeff Allen wrote:

My wife and I use the OPOL approach with our children (one 3 years and the other 4 months). She heard or read a couple a weeks ago that children who are able to play alone (by themselves) tend to develop their language "production" (ie, speaking) skills faster. This is because as they are playing (with no one else present), they talk to themselves.

And on the contrary, children who always want to be around parents and other people, and who do not play by themselves, do not develop the language production skills as fast.

I've not heard or read about this idea before. Any comments on it from the Multilingual Families readers?

Jeff
http://jeffallen.chez.tiscali.fr/about-jeffallen.htm





I really hope that this is true because just recently I have noticed that when I go to pick up my 16 month old son, he is always playing alone. All of the other children are plaing together and he is off playing alone. It had really had me concerned. Do you think this is really normal? Please Help! Thanks, Kristi


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:11
Member
English
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Don't worry Krittie! Apr 19, 2007

My daughter (8) spends a lot of time at home playing with dolls and playmobile figures and if I sneak nearby to hear her she has these incredible conversations going on.

Some kids are naturally gregarious and others just keep themselves to themselves. I was a loner as a kid and had an imaginary friend (actually a whole world of them) - but I grew out of it and learned to make real friends. As long as your child isn't isolated because of problems with other kids, but is alone by choice, I wouldn't worry. Kids seem to know when they wish to be social animals and when they don't.

[Edited at 2007-04-19 23:02]


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