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Successful parents do these 3 things with their kids to ‘build their brains,’ says pediatric surgeon


The best time to start school is in the early years. rapid development in the brain. Actually, 90% of a child’s brain growth happens before the age of five — and a big part of it is dependent on their language environment.

This is why “serve and return” relationships are so crucial for both brain and social development. Nurturing activities — talking, smiling, pointing, responding, singing, narrating your day — help kids develop two critical sets of skills: Cognitive skills (e.g., reading, memory, language) and non-cognitive (or “soft”) skills (e.g., grit, resilience).

My specialty is pediatric surgery. I have observed that parents often don’t provide enough language development for their children.

Our programs are based on the three-step “3Ts strategy”, which is a proven method for parents to connect with their children. Read more. Have fun.

How do you implement the 3Ts strategy?

Step 1: Tune in

Listening to the radio encourages parents and caregivers to pay attention to what their children are focusing on. Then, they can talk with each other about this.

Imagine that you are sitting down at the dinner table with your child and they look out of the window. You can follow your child’s line of sight, and then tune into what they are focused on. Next, ask them this question: Are you outside watching the bird? You will be amazed at how vibrant it is!

Be aware of the sounds and sights that grab your child’s interest at the present moment. Their attention is constantly shifting because they are curious and curious. Your mission is to match the conversation with whatever is fascinating them in the moment.

Step 2: Continue to talk

You can now tune in to what interests your child and follow their example by speaking more using many different languages.

Talking more adds words to the piggy bank in a child’s brain — a bank that earns compound interest. As a result, a child will build more connections in their brains and expand their vocabulary.

Let’s go back to our previous example. Now that you have established that your child is focused outside on the bird, start to talk to them about it. Use diverse language and focus to keep the conversation going. Let’s find out how long he remains.

Step 3: Make turns

When you are both engaged, the best conversations occur. No matter your child’s age, you can take turns and have a conversation — little baby babbles, pointing and gestures also count as dialogue.

Encourage your child’s ability to communicate with you in a back-and forth conversation by asking them questions.

You can add your emotions and observations to create a sense of reciprocity: I see both blue and brown feathers. How many colors can you identify on the bird’s feathers? Is he a favorite of yours? “I think he is the most beautiful bird I have ever seen.”

ThreeTs strategy: Benefits

StudiesThe 3Ts has been proven to be effective in increasing parent’s interactions with their child.

It’s great that the 3Ts help parents keep in touch as their children grow up and into adulthood. This strategy is still used with my first child, who just graduated college.

It doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment or a special degree to be able to use 3Ts. You can use them while reading or playing.

Parents are reminded by them that they are the first and most important teachers of their children. They also remind them that loving and caring serve-and return interactions will build a solid foundation for their child’s future learning.

Dr. Dana SuskindProfessor of Pediatrics and Surgery at University of Chicago Medical Center. He is also the founder and codirector of The Chicago Children’s Hospital. TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago. She is Author of the article “Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise.” Follow her on Twitter @DrDanaSuskind.

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