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Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns and Build a Child's Brain


Talking to our children from the time they are born is a cornerstone to their later success in life. Language acquistion is the primary code for shaping the brain and, consequently, to how we learn, how we look at the world, know ourselves, and understand meaning in the amalgamation of all these things. In other words, language grows the brain.

How can parents best grow their child's brain? According to Dr. Dana Suskind, author of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child's Brain and founder of the Thirty Million Words initiative, the secret to growing your child's brain is "hiding in plain sight."

And that secret is -- to have conversations with your child.

Enter the Three T's, developed by Dr. Suskind:

Tune In

 by paying attention to what your child is communicating to you.  

Talk More
with your child using descriptive words to build his vocabulary.

Take Turns
by encouraging your child to respond to your words and actions.

The following photo shows a good example of the 3Ts in action:

Notice the adults in the photo.  Both are "tuned in" to the little girl, by their body language, facial expressions, and eyes focused on the child. They all appear be to "talking" about what the child is seeing and experiencing - the flowers she is reaching for. Mother looks like she is waiting for the child to respond - "taking turns."


But what is missing in the following photos?



Father is comforting his child, looking at his child - but he is not fully "tuned in" - his attention split with his cell phone.


In the photo on the left, Mom is talking on her cell phone and typing on her laptop.  She  holds the baby but is not engaged with her.

As Dr. Suskind writes, "Of the the Three Ts, Tune In is the most nuanced.  It involves a parent's making a conscious effort to notice what a baby or child in focused on, then, when it's appropriate, talking with the child. If a parent is not Tuned In, the other Ts will not work."  page 135


To find out more - check out
Or try the website: 



What is the Thirty Million Words Initiative?

The Thirty Million Words Initiative develops and disseminates evidence-based, parent-directed programs that encourage parents to harness the power of their words to build their children’s brains and shape their futures. Find out more at thirtymillionwords.org!


 Additional resources:
   Early Learning on the SCCLD Kid's page
   First Five
   Ready At Five
         Or - try out this podcast:   Early Education Comes Way too Late


Time to Tune In, Talk, and Take Turns!

Here's a mom - Tuning in (smiling and looking directly at baby while holding her hands around her), they both appear to be in direct conversation, and taking turns.


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