Recording the “Boring” Stuff

When we think of sharing videos and recordings with family members, we often want to capture moments that are especially lively and enjoyable. These are videos that make us swoon, laugh, or be in awe of what our children are doing.

While those recordings might include particularly adorable conversations and kiddie quotes, every parent knows that raising children involves many more mundane moments, ones that we don’t often acknowledge or share with others. The everyday moments we share with our children can hold important information about their language. Think about your daily breakfast routine:

  1. Is your child talking during meal time?
  2. Are they requesting things?
  3. Are they asking questions about topics outside of breakfast?
  4. Is there back-and-forth conversation going on? How much of it?

The answers to these questions will vary depending on the child, the day, and even the mood at the breakfast table. We can learn a lot about children’s language and their communicative intent by studying what they do in their natural environments. We can learn about if and how they’re experimenting with language, and if they’re having the opportunity to enrich their language. They also help scientists understand the language environment in your home.

Also, because everyday moments occur so often, these are natural environments that can be some of the best ways for children to learn, explore, and enrich their language. Everyday, family members discuss things going on in their daily lives. For instance, one day you may talk about something that is work-related, using very specific terms related to your occupation (or jargon). During those moments, your children are immersed into a moment with new language. As time goes on, children learn and may independently start to use the new language that was previously presented to them.

What started out as repeatedly mentioning “I have a meeting so I won’t be available,” and explaining what meetings are, can lead to children spontaneously asking “Are you available now?” The way to capture these moments is by recording those everyday conversations that are already happening. These “boring” conversations are also the ones that can highlight just how different children’s language can become over time. KidTalk was developed to capture these moments!

So when scrapbooking this week, consider capturing these moments where you can leave the recording running (it is OK to leave it running during pauses, and you do not need to transcribe these moments):

  1. Meal times
  2. Talking while watching videos
  3. When children are playing on their own
  4. When you’re doing something together (e.g. it could even be simple housework or relaxing in the living room)

KidTalk: Scrapbooking for Science. Citizen Science project run by Prof. Yi Ting Huang (University of Maryland) and Prof. Josh Hartshorne (Boston College).